When and how to watch the solar eclipse in Minnesota, where it’ll be about 75 percent visible

Eclipse 2024
Partial solar eclipses like we will see in Minnesota occur when the moon passes between the sun and earth, but the three aren’t perfectly aligned, according to NASA. It creates a crescent shape with the sun partly covered.
MPR News 2017

On Monday, the world will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly seven years.

Minnesota won’t be in the path of totality, but an eclipse in any form is still “the most unearthly experience you can have on the earth,” according to longtime University of Wisconsin-La Crosse planetarium director Bob Allen. So where and when in Minnesota should you stop and look skyward to witness the cosmic event?

Most of Minnesota will see a 75 percent partial eclipse, according to the Bell Museum. Southeastern Minnesota will see an 80 percent partial eclipse or more, Allen said. It will start around 1 p.m., peak around 2 p.m. and end by 3:10 to 3:15 p.m. Find the exact timing of the eclipse in your area on eclipse2024.org.

The most unearthly experience you can have on the earth.

In his five decades of studying astronomy, Allen has chased three total eclipses. He went to western Nebraska in 2017, Hawaii in 1991 and Manitoba, Canada, in 1979. He’s headed to Arkansas on Wednesday, hoping to witness a fourth.

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“Partials are interesting,” he said. “It’s like getting in an airplane with a parachute and one person jumping out and the other staying in the plane and saying ‘I’m not gonna do it.’ It’s a different thrill.”

Partial solar eclipses like we will see in Minnesota occur when the moon passes between the sun and earth, but the three aren’t perfectly aligned, according to NASA. It creates a crescent shape with the sun partly covered. These eclipses turn day to dusk and can even trigger streetlights to turn on, Allen said.

Solar Eclipse Visible Across Swath Of U.S.
In this NASA handout, a total solar eclipse is seen on Aug. 21, 2017 above Madras, Ore.
NASA via Getty Images

Schools preparing for eclipse

Minnesota teachers are preparing their classes for next week’s solar eclipse.

Science instructors are purchasing eclipse glasses, teaching students to make pinhole projectors and crafting lessons about the solar system in preparation for the celestial event.

Jill Jensen teaches science at Scott Highlands Middle School in Apple Valley and has been preparing since September to make sure her students can view the eclipse.

“It doesn’t happen very often, and space is one of those topics that’s really abstract to get students to wrap their heads around. But to actually see it is a whole other experience,” Jensen said.

In Barnum, students are sharing cultural stories about eclipses that range from the lighthearted to the “quite scary” and planning art projects, shadow tracing and a viewing party.

In St. Cloud, at Apollo High School, teachers are recording plant and animal behavior before, during and after the eclipse to better understand how other species are affected by changes in sunlight.

In Duluth, at Starbase — a nonprofit focused on teaching STEM — instructors have purchased eclipse glasses and are planning to take students outside to make observations and view the eclipse on Monday.

“You are watching the moon move in front of the sun,” said Jensen, who is also president of the Minnesota Science Teachers Association. “It just gives you the perspective of our place in the universe that you don’t get in any other instance.”

People that came to watch the eclipse stare into the sky as they wait.
People that came to watch the 2017 eclipse stare into the sky while wearing eye protection, as they wait for the eclipse to reach totality in Pawnee City, Neb.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News file

Watch parties

  • The Bell Museum in St. Paul is hosting a watch party from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also livestream the eclipse and have glasses for purchase, starting at $3 per pair.

  • The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is offering a package with admission and glasses.

  • Bethel University has a viewing event from 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. on the lawn next to Benson Great Hall in St. Paul.

  • Sibley State Park in Willmar will have experts on hand and a kids craft available from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

  • Wild River State Park in Center City will have a safe telescope and glasses from 1 to 3 p.m.

  • Minneopa State Park in Mankato will have naturalists available to answer questions and an all-ages craft from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

  • Winona State University is hosting a free, public viewing event from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the lawn with eclipse glasses, special solar telescopes and pinhole projectors available. The school is also livestreaming the eclipse in the Science Lab Center’s atrium.

    The sun begins to be covered by the moon.
    The sun begins to be covered by the moon as the 2017 eclipse begins above Pawnee City, Neb.
    Christopher Juhn for MPR News file

Protect your peepers — and avoid scams

  • Sunglasses aren’t the solution. You need special eclipse glasses to see safely and avoid retina damage.

  • Pop on your eclipse glasses while looking away from the sun and only turn your head when they’re properly positioned to avoid eye damage.

  • Be wary of counterfeit and fake glasses. Check out this guide from the American Astronomical Society. TL;DR: Test the glasses beforehand. You shouldn’t be able to see anything indoors except for very bright lights, which will only appear faintly. Outdoors on a sunny day, you should only be able to see a pale reflection of the sun on a shiny surface.

  • No matter how good your glasses are, the AAS recommends looking at the sun for just 2 to 3 seconds at a time every 5 minutes — and never look through binoculars, telescopes or camera lenses while wearing eclipse glasses.

MPR News reporter Elizabeth Shockman contributed to this report.