Visit Calendar Public Viewing of the Partial Solar Eclipse, May 20, 2012
May 20, 2012
5:24 p.m. – 7:42 p.m.
Griffith Observatory

Public Viewing of the Partial Solar Eclipse, May 20, 2012

On Sunday, May 20, the Observatory welcomed thousands of people for free viewing of the partial solar eclipse.


Upcoming Eclipse Events at Griffith Observatory

Traffic Advisory
There is also a large event scheduled at the Greek Theatre from 2:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 20. There will be significant congestion on both roads (Vermont and Western Canyon) leading to the Observatory. No Observatory or other public parking will be permitted anywhere in the Greek Theatre area. It is likely parking in the Observatory’s parking lot and along West Observatory Road and Western Canyon will fill very quickly. Visitors may want to be prepared for a long, uphill walk. One way to avoid traffic and parking frustrations is to take the Metro Red Line to the Sunset/Vermont station and take the Weekend Observatory Shuttle to and from the Observatory. The shuttle runs from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and costs 50 cents each way.

What is a partial solar eclipse?
As seen from Earth, a Solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun. From selected locations in Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Western U.S., this will be an annular eclipse. An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon and Sun are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is slightly smaller than the apparent size of the Sun, causing a very bright ring or annulus, surrounding the dark outline of the Moon. On May 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, the eclipse will not be centered on the Sun, and is thus a partial eclipse.

How can I safely view the eclipse?
NO ONE SHOULD EVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION. In order to view the Sun safely during the eclipse, all telescopes and other viewing should be done with certifiably safe filters. The telescopes available for free viewing of the eclipse at Griffith Observatory will be equipped with proper filters. Griffith Observatory’s Stellar Emporium gift shop will stock official Griffith Observatory Solarama viewing filters and Griffith Observatory Eclipse Glasses for purchase.

Where else will the eclipse be visible?
From Los Angeles, the eclipse is partial with 85.9 percent of the Sun’s diameter and 78.6 percent of the Sun’s area obscured by the Moon at maximum, the most extensive solar eclipse in L.A. since 1992. The eclipse is annular along a path that stretches across China, southern Japan, and the north Pacific Ocean before reaching the northwest coast of the United States, There, the 200 mile-wide path crosses southern Oregon and Northern California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and finally Texas, where annularity occurs at sunset. A detailed, interactive map of the eclipse is available on NASA’s eclipse website,

Building Events

  • Building Open 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Extensive viewing with the coelostat
  • Live viewing from telescopes on the lawn
  • Talks and explanations by staff

Eclipse Highlights

  • Eclipse Begins 5:24 p.m.
  • Maximum eclipse 6:38 p.m.
  • Eclipse ends 7:42 p.m.
  • Sunset 7:52 p.m.