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Spectacular Solar Events in Store for National Parks!

May 18, 2012

Latest image of the Sun taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Over the next several weeks, there are going to be some pretty amazing celestial events involving the sun. The best part is that you’ll have the opportunity to witness these events from some pretty cool places…many of America’s National  Parks! 

For us in between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer (i.e. Hawaii, Guam & Saipan), we’ll experience what has become known in Hawaii as the “Lahaina Noon.” Twice a year, the sun passes directly over points in the tropics, which means that on those two days there will be no shadows cast when the sun is directly overhead. For Haleakala National Park, this event will occur on May 23, but for parks further south, such as Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island, will see this event on May 18.

NASA

Right in the middle of this “tropical event” will be a celestial event that can be observed from a much wider area! On May 20, there will be a Annular Solar Eclipse that will be observable from 33 National Parks in the western United States. Additionally, a partial solar eclipse will be observable from 121 National Parks on that day! So you’ll be able to see this event whether you’re visiting Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota or War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam…of course in Guam it will be May 21! (Click here for more information on which parks will be affected by this event)

Image from the Transit of Venus in 2004. In early June we’ll witness the final such transit event in our lifetime!

Now on to what for all of us will be a once in a lifetime event…the Transit of Venus. From Virgin Islands National Park to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, observers will be able to watch as the Planet Venus passes in front of the Sun’s disk. This rare event will not occur again until 2117! For more information about this amazing event, check out this National Park Service website: http://www.nature.nps.gov/features/eclipse/transitofvenus.cfm

People safely viewing a solar eclipse. Photo by NASA.

As always when viewing the sun, be sure to follow these safety precautions: http://www.nature.nps.gov/features/eclipse/howtoview.cfm

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to experience YOUR National Parks for yourself. Remember, there are 397 National Parks and there’s probably one near you! http://www.nps.gov/

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