The Heat is On

City to host solar eclipse watch party.

The City of Alexandria will host a solar eclipse watch event Monday, April 8, at the Old Town Pool picnic area on Cameron Street.

While not in the path of totality, the region will see a partial 87 percent solar eclipse. The viewing party, sponsored by Alexandria Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, is scheduled for 3-3:45 p.m.

The event, which is free to attend, will include eclipse glasses to view the event safely, along with arts and crafts for the family. Select Warby Parker, MyEyeDr and Smoothie King locations are also distributing free eclipse viewing glasses.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, either blocking the sun partially or in totality. While partial solar eclipses occur at least twice annually, the chance to see a total solar eclipse is rare. The last one viewed from the contiguous U.S. was in 2017 and the one before that was in 1979. The next total solar eclipse able to be seen from the contiguous U.S. will be in 2044.

According to NASA, the moon’s shadow will move along its path at about 1,600 miles per hour, blanketing everything in darkness. Because of its high speed, the show will be a fast one, lasting roughly three to four minutes.

NASA cautions that specialized solar eclipse glasses are required since staring at the sun without protection will cause severe eye injury. This includes looking at it through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope that doesn’t have a special-purpose solar filter secured on the front. Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, also will not offer protection.

Viewers at the Old Town Pool picnic area, located at 1609 Cameron Street, will be able to see the shadow of the moon cross in front of the sun, clear weather permitting, and learn about why the phenomenon happens.