Solar Eclipse 2012: Where to Watch From in the Bay Area

A solar eclipse will impress over Bay Area skies Sunday, May 20. Check out this list of where in the Bay you can catch the best views and learn from experts at the same time!

Castro Valley and San Lorenzo.

We know. On the weekends, you may be find yourself away from home, but somewhere in the Bay Area or around Northern California. With a big event like the annular solar eclipse coming up Sunday we thought we'd help you find a viewing event closer than you thought.

This list includes a few select locations outside of the Bay Area, including Sacramento. And remember to .


at the University of California, Berkeley (1 Centennial Drive) will have several solar telescopes for viewing the eclipse safely on their main plaza. There will also be special programming inside the Hall’s Planetarium throughout the evening. The program goes from 5 to 8 pm.  Follow this link for more info.

Clayton (Mt. Diablo)

The Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society will have safe solar telescopes available for viewing on Mt. Diablo (Park in the Lower Summit Parking Lot, Summit Rd, Clayton, CA 94517). Starting at 5 pm until 7:30 pm, they will be setting up at Juniper Campground parking area. Although there is no fee for this program, there is a $10 park entrance fee. Check their web site www.mdas.net and click on events.

Half Moon Bay

(1410 Cabrillo Highway South Half Moon Bay, 1.3 miles South of Hwy. 92) is hosting an afternoon of astronomy viewing. Host is Steve White of Scope City, San Francisco, who will have a special telescope that can show solar flares and prominences.

Los Altos Hills

Observatory (12345 El Monte Rd.) will be open, with telescopes in and outside the dome, from 5:30 pm to about 7:30 pm.  Join the members of the Peninsula Astronomical Society for free eclipse observing and explanations. Click here for a map and webcam.

Mount Hamilton

Lick Observatory, 7281 Mount Hamilton Road, Mount Hamilton, CA 95140 (18 miles east of San Jose on State Route 130) will be providing access to a solar telescope (SolarMax II) for safe, up-close viewing, and the gift shop will also have eclipse viewing glasses available for purchase for a nominal charge.


(10000 Skyline Blvd) will have an eclipse viewing party on the observatory deck.  Engage in hands-on solar projects, make a pin-hole camera, enjoy solar viewing, and converse with experienced astronomers. The Center will close at 5 pm, but there will be special extended hours on the observatory deck until 8pm! Buy tickets online   or call (510)336-7373.

Pleasant Hill

Observatory (321 Golf Club Road) will have one or more telescopes available from about 5 pm until the Sun goes behind the trees. The best access is from Viking Drive with free parking in lots 4 and 4a. A campus map can be obtained here. The observatory is the circular building in the middle of Science Center. The planetarium will not be open. The observatory has a WHITE dome and can be accessed following the path on the west side of the Life Sciences Building and then the spiral path to the left. NO stairs are required, but it is a fairly steep climb on a paved path.


The Discovery Museum Science & Space Center (3615 Auburn Blvd, Sacramento 95821) will have an eclipse party, 5:30 - 7:30 pm.  The evening includes a program explaining eclipses and safe viewing techniques (each participant will receive a special eclipse viewer).  During the actual eclipse, families are invited to enjoy their own picnic dinners in our nature area.  Then there will be a planetarium show featuring the planets and constellations visible as darkness falls. You may register at the Museum or over the phone by calling 916-808-3942.

San Carlos

(610 Elm St.) will have a solar eclipse event from 4 - 7 pm. Indoor and outdoor activities, telescopes, eclipse and lunar-phase models. Call 650 591-0341.

San Francisco

The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park (55 Music Concourse Dr.) will be setting up some telescopes and other viewing apparatus from 5 to 7:40 pm in front of the Academy on the Music Concourse side, where the angles should allow participants to see most if not all of the eclipse.

The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers are hosting two events. One, a viewing party on the Marina Green, promoting safe viewing, and the other, alluringly called the "Ring of Fire Road Trip to Mt. Shasta," which is in the path of the eclipse, and from which the "full annular" effect can be seen.

San Juan Bautista

The Fremont Peak Observatory Association will conduct a special solar program from 5 pm to sunset at the observatory which is located in Fremont Peak State Park (6878 San Juan County Road, San Juan Bautista, CA 95045). Detailed directions to the Observatory from Google is here. Members of the public must be sure to pay the park entry fee before walking up to the observatory.  You’ll be able to view the eclipse through special solar telescopes. They will also be handing out a limited number of approved solar viewers for direct observation of the Sun.

Marga Lacabe May 18, 2012 at 02:27 AM
An annular eclipse is a rare enough event that I think is worth driving a couple of hours north and actually being able to see it. You need to drive north on I-5 only as far as Willows to be able to see it in its path. I still remember the '79 annular eclipse I witnessed - and this time we even got eclipse glasses :-)
Ken Martin May 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM
What time is the eclipse at its peak?
Marga Lacabe May 18, 2012 at 05:30 PM
It depends where you are, obviously. but in SF at 6:33 PM Sunday.
David Ross May 21, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Anyplace you have a clear view of the sun is a good place to see the eclipse. Making a solar eclipse viewer is very simple. You'll need to pieces of paper. In one, place a small round hole. Hold this paper in front of the piece of paper without a hole on it. Aim the hole at the sun while looking at the second paper. You'll be able to see a small version of the solar eclipse on the paper behind the one with the hole in it.


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