As we inch closer to the much-awaited solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, you might want to start considering where you’ll take it all in.
You could be thinking, “Who cares? I’ll just step outside and look up!” Be careful with that one. The experts are saying that’s not exactly safe, since you’ll still be staring right into the sun. Even if it’s just an outline of the distant star eclipsed by the moon, that can do some real damage to your eyes. Rather, you’ll want to grab yourself a pair of solar glasses or make a good-old-fashioned pinhole camera with a cereal box and some foil.
Maryland won’t be right in the path of complete solar obfuscation, known technically as the “path of totality,” stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. However, NASA says about 80 percent of the sun will be covered overhead, which is still pretty close, and worthwhile given that it’s the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in roughly a century.
The eclipse is supposed to come into view over Maryland just after 1 p.m. and reach its peak a little before 3 p.m.
With all that in mind, here are six spots to dig the apocalyptic scenery on Aug. 21:
Point Lookout State Park
This is one of two “dark sky” parks in the state with little to no light pollution to ruin your dark afternoon sky. Located at the southern tip of St. Mary’s County, the park offers remote waterside views that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the state.
Where: 11175 Point Lookout Road, Scotland, MD
Cost: $3 per Maryland vehicle; $5 per non-Maryland vehicle
Tuckahoe State Park
This is the other “dark sky” park, located inland on the Eastern Shore at the border of Caroline and Queen Anne’s counties. State park management will be hosting a free party in the Cherry Lane Campground section in honor of the eclipse. Staff will hand out solar glass on a first-come, first-serve basis, and families can enjoy astronomically themed crafts, music and snacks.
Where: 13070 Crouse Mill Rd, Queen Anne, MD
Maryland Science Center
Don’t feel like leaving the city? Enjoy harborside views of the covered sun from the Maryland Science Center’s rooftop observatory. After paying regular admission, you can get a timestamped ticket to journey up for a 30- or 45-minute interval between noon and 4 p.m., depending on your timing. Those who can’t make it to the roof can join science center staff outside on the harbor promenade or inside the center’s SpaceLink or planetarium sections to view live feeds.
Where: 601 Light Street
Cost: $24.95 per adult, $18.95 per child
Port Discovery Children’s Museum
The fun, educational children’s attraction next to Power Plant Live is hosting an eclipse-themed “Family Play Monday,” with an observation period from 2 to 4 p.m. (again, solar glasses free on a first-come, first-serve basis) and other activities geared toward kids starting at 10 a.m. Let your wee ones make art, learn about the skies overhead and safely take in an historic celestial event.
Where: 35 Market Place
Cost: $15.95 per anyone ages 2 and up, free for children younger than 2 years old
See how the eclipsed afternoon sun casts light on the trees and trails at the Cylburn Arboretum in North Baltimore. Guests will gather on the mansion porch from 1 to 3 p.m. with solar glasses and pinhole cameras. The Arboretum is notably making a rare exception with its hours by opening up on a Monday to take advantage of the solar opportunity. Enjoy it with a bit of nature right in the city limits.
Where: 4915 Greenspring Avenue
Cost: $10 per person
Got other ideas? Hosting an open solar eclipse party at your house? Send the info along and we can add it to our list.
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