Where to See the Solar Eclipse Near You in SoCal

With so many clear, dark skies in southern California, we never really experience a shortage of celestial events. Whether it’s the occasional “supermoon,” “blood moon,” or “strawberry moon” or the annual Perseids meteor showers, we have plenty of reasons to turn our gazes up to the sky – especially at night.

solar eclipse

Partial and annular phases of solar eclipse on May 20, 2012 | Brocken Inaglory/CC BY-SA 3.0 

But nothing – and I mean nothing – creates quite the excitement that an eclipse does.

And that’s especially true if you’re talking about darkness being cast over the sun, turning broad daylight briefly into a starry, starry night. On August 21, that’s exactly what a portion of the United States will experience – at least, in those states located directly in the path of totality.

But here in L.A., things won’t line up perfectly for the moon to block the sun’s rays on their way to the Earth – at least not entirely. But, as we did in 2012 and 2014, we’ll get a good view of the partial eclipse, turning the ball of fire into a crescent shape over the course of about two and a half hours.

At 10:21 a.m. PT, Angelenos will be able to see about 62 percent of the sun darken when it reaches its maximum eclipse. (For more on exactly what to expect, visit GreatAmericanEclipse.com.)

The lower 48 states have not borne witness to a full solar eclipse since 1979, so it’s a big enough deal for sun- and stargazers alike to flock to Oregon, Wyoming, and elsewhere to catch the total eclipse – something most people are lucky to see once during their lives. But even a partial eclipse can be pretty spectacular in its otherworldliness – and this is the last one we’ll see in L.A. until the year 2023.

So, if your plans don’t take you out of town for the big event on August 21, don’t despair! There are plenty of festivities here in the Southland (and beyond) where you can gather with fellow Angelenos and salute the sun as it darkens in the sky – which is bound to be clear on a hot August morning. For starters, you can view the eclipse (which will begin in L.A. at 9:05 a.m. PT) from your choice of three L.A. area programs courtesy of the National Park Service, with a limited supply of solar glasses and Junior Ranger eclipse books provided at each:


1. Los Angeles State Historic Park, Downtown LA

Also known as “The Cornfield,” meet there or at the new Gateway to Nature center at El Pueblo Historical Monument to join up with rangers at 8:30 a.m. and walk over as a group. This event is being held in conjunction with California State Parks and Western National Parks Association.

2. Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch, Calabasas

Attend a ranger-led program about the phenomenon of a total eclipse of the sun and watch the sky together from the beautiful grounds of the former estate of razor magnate King C. Gillette, including the Spanish Colonial Revival-style mansion. Hike up to Inspiration Point for a great view of the Malibu Creek Watershed area that surrounds the park.

king gillete

King Gillete | Sandi Hemmerlein 


3. Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa, Thousand Oaks

Meet at the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, named after a nearby Chumash village and situated along the former Chumash trade route, for a family-friendly program featuring ranger-led activities for kids, a storytelling session of Native American folklore, and a group viewing of the eclipse.

And since you shouldn’t actually look at even a partial eclipse without proper eye protection, you can also visit one of our many local observatories and planetariums that will be providing special solar telescopes to view the eclipse safely, live video streams of the eclipse from the path of totality, and astronomers and amateur stargazers to answer questions.

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The following is a selection of the many other Eclipse Day events hosted by our biggest science-and space-related institutions -- both in the L.A. area and farther afield:

1. Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park

9 a.m. to Noon, Free. If the last eclipse events are any indication, Griffith will be mobbed on August 21 – so, get there early and be prepared to walk from wherever you park your car.

griffith observatory

Griffith Observatory | Sandi Hemmerlein 

2. County of Los Angeles Public Libraries, Various

9:30 a.m., Free. From Claremont to Temple City, a number of LA County libraries are hosting free, family-friendly viewing parties replete with free solar safety glasses while supplies last. Non-county libraries also offering free programming include Inglewood Public Library (in conjunction with The Planetary Society), Altadena Library District,

3. Kidspace Children’s Museum, Pasadena

9:30 a.m. to Noon, Free with $13 paid museum admission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be on hand for kid-friendly crafts and a showing of the livestream of the total eclipse.

4. Mount Wilson Observatory, Angeles National Forest

9:00 a.m. -11:45 a.m. though you can stick around to take a self-guided tour of the grounds, which close at 5 p.m. Free, but valid Adventure Pass ($5.00 daily, $30.00 annual) must be displayed in order to park.

mt wilson

Mount Wilson Observatory | Sandi Hemmerlein 

5. The Mt. Sac – Randall Planetarium, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut

8:00 a.m. to Noon, Free. Free parking available for visitors in the student lots. Safe solar telescope viewing will be located at Parking Lot G and free showings of "Totality" in the planetarium (Building 26C). Seating for all shows is first come, first served – and breaks will be taken for both the start of the eclipse and its maximum.

6. Tessman Planetarium, Santa Ana College, Santa Ana

8:30-11:45 a.m., Free.

7. Palmer Observatory, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara

9:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m., Free with $12 paid museum admission. A collaboration between The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, and Las Cumbres Observatory in Goleta.

8. Fleet Science Center, Balboa Park, San Diego

9:00 a.m. to Noon, Free (outside at the Plaza only). With paid museum admission ($14.95 and up), you can also watch a simulcast of the eclipse along the path of totality on the screen inside the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. Note that in San Diego, the eclipse starts at 9:07 a.m., two minutes after LA – but this science museum has been hosting celebratory events leading up to the big day since the end of July.


Did we miss an eclipse event near you? Tell us where you’ll be watching in the comments.


Top Image: Griffith Observatory | Matthew Field/CC BY 2.5

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