Viewing the 2023 Annular Eclipse on Public Lands
This year's eclipse will cover a wide swath of the western US on October 14th. Throughout the day, eight different states will have at least portions that get to experience the "Ring of Fire" that this eclipse will create.
If you want to catch an eclipse, don't let this chance slip by! Aside from an eclipse on the east coast in 2024, this will be the only chance to see a solar eclipse in the US for several years.
Keep reading to see where the eclipse will be visible, and how to view it safely. Click here to find safe, tested eclipse viewers for sale.
Where to See the Eclipse
This eclipse will be visible from many public lands in the west, creating opportunities for viewing experiences in areas of great historic importance and natural beauty. Since this is not a total eclipse, there will still be portions of the sun visible during peak coverage, creating the "Ring of Fire" annular eclipses are known for.
While partial eclipsing will be visible across most of the western US, only a relatively narrow band will get the full annular eclipse experience.
Scroll through the interactive map below to see just a few of the major public lands where the "Ring of Fire" will be visible.
While National Parks may be crowded at this time (especially those with timed entry), there is no shortage of public lands and wildernesses that can help you beat the crowds to witness this astronomical event in a beautiful setting.
Aside from National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites, the eclipse will pass over millions of acres of National Forest and Bureau of Land Management property—all accessible for camping, hiking, and other activities while you view the eclipse.
The National Forests where you can catch the "Ring of Fire"
Click on the links to find maps for these areas.
Cibola National Forest
Lincoln National Forest
For recreating on Bureau of Land Management areas, please reach out to the field office of interest, or contact us through the "Chat" function on the bottom right of the page for assistance.
How to View an Eclipse Safely
No matter how dark your polarized sunglasses seem to get, they do not approach a fraction of the protection needed against the eye-damaging effects of direct sunlight. For only a brief moment, total solar eclipses can be safe to view unfiltered, but such eclipses are rarer than partial or annular ones.
There are a wide variety of solar filters, glasses, and viewers that do make it possible to view the sun directly, even outside of an eclipse.
Choosing an Eclipse Viewer or Eclipse Glasses
There are a wide variety of products that claim to protect your eyes enough to view an eclipse. Unfortunately, many companies that sell viewing products may skimp, and do not guarantee the protective properties of their viewers. Most experts and educators strongly recommend purchasing viewing tools from a reputable supplier whose products have been tested and confirmed to meet the ISO 12312-2 standards. These international consumer safety standards are a baseline for creating products that allow you to view the sun safely.
One important note: the filters used in cardboard eclipse viewers are subject to damage from the sun. Don't use these viewers if punctured or scratched, and refrain from using them for extended periods of time (3 minutes or more). The coatings on these disposable viewers can also degrade over time, meaning they have a shelf life of about three years when kept dry, clean, and protected. Click here for a good checklist for safely using these devices.
We now carry solar eclipse glasses from American Paper Optics in our online store! The American Astronomical Society considers this company a reputable supplier. Quantities are limited, so order yours early.
Viewing with Cameras, Binoculars, or Telescopes
When viewing an eclipse through an additional lens, attention to properly filtering the sun is especially important. These devices work to magnify an image by concentrating a greater amount of light than your eye is able to on its own, meaning that both the image and the sunlight will be magnified!
For the same reason, using eclipse glasses with these tools does not do enough to protect your eye from the sun, as the front lens is the point where light is concentrated. Most eclipse glasses and viewers are only rated to filter sunlight; viewing the sun behind a lens, even for a short time, can expose the viewers (and your eye) to radiation several times greater than direct sunlight. In addition, sensitive components of cameras, telescopes, and binoculars may respond poorly to unfiltered sunlight.
Purchasing a solar filter from a reputable supplier that attaches firmly to your viewing device is the only way to properly view the sun with these tools. These are always designed to be placed between your front lens and the sun to reduce the amount of light concentrated by the device. Find more resources on solar filters from the American Astronomical Society.
A Note on Cultural Beliefs Around Eclipses
In the Southwest, we are acutely aware of the diversity of beliefs about the natural world held by different people groups. In some Indigenous cultures, eclipses are sacred times where going outside and observing the eclipse is considered necessary, while others have strict beliefs to avoid viewing an eclipse. Still others have no broad cultural preference one way or another.
If you choose to travel and view this eclipse (which will traverse millions of acres of Native land), please be respectful of the people that call these areas home and know there may be some interruption in services. Photography while on the land of sovereign Indigenous nations often requires a permit or express permission from leadership, especially for commercial purposes. For a sampling of Indigenous perspectives on eclipses, check out this forum in Smithsonian Magazine that interviews members of several tribes.