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Members enjoy FREE James S. McDonnell Planetarium show tickets with EVERY visit!.

Great American Total Solar Eclipse

Ongoing activities leading up to the Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017 will be a unique chance to view the sky as the moon passes in front of the sun in a total solar eclipse. This total solar eclipse is the first one to sweep across the continental United States since 1979 and the first one to be seen from coast to coast since 1918.

The Saint Louis Science Center and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium are providing learning opportunities leading up to and the day of the total solar eclipse that prepare and inform visitors about this exciting event.


This show gives visitors an idea of what a solar and lunar eclipse look like. Planetarium educators explain solar and lunar eclipses’ and the differences between them.

Click here to learn more about this show.

This demonstration provides visitors the explanation of why the moon goes through phases, and why we do not have an eclipse every month.

Safe solar observing demonstrations ensure that visitors know how to safely observe the sun with specialty eye instruments, and why it is unsafe to look at the sun without specialty eye instruments. Safe Solar Observing is experienced indoors, but also outdoors on every third Saturday of the month for Solar Saturdays.

Solar Telescopes and Sun Spotters will be located outside the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and occasionally in GROW, on every third Saturday of the month for Solar Saturdays. The Solar Telescopes and Sun Spotters will also be available on select days (weather permitting). Call 314.289.4400 for more information.

Join us at the Saint Louis Science Center for demonstrations, solar observing, food and fun to celebrate the total solar eclipse on August 21. Planetarium educators will narrate what is happening during the eclipse.

Explore concepts related to the Great American Total Solar Eclipse on August 21 at our eclipse workshop offered two Sundays each month.

The concepts covered in the workshop will explore the what, when, where, how and why questions regarding the eclipse. This workshop will focus on three sections:

  • James S. McDonnell Planetarium Star Show Live Sky: Eclipse
  • Demonstrations and activities
  • Techniques on how to safely observe the eclipse

As part of your workshop, each educator will receive one pair of eclipse glasses to safely observe the sun during the safe solar observing section.

Upcoming Dates (see below for times): 

Sunday, March 19
Sunday, March 26
Sunday, April 2
Sunday, April 9
Sunday, May 7
Sunday, May 14

Cost: $15 per person

To register, email or call 314-289-4439.

All activities are at the Saint Louis Science Center’s James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Parking is free at the Planetarium parking lot. If you choose to park at the main parking lot, there will be a $10 parking fee.

9:00 am – 9:40 am
Planetarium Star Show Live Sky: Eclipse

This live star show will explore how three well known objects, the Sun, Earth and Moon, behave to cause night, day, the seasons, and of course how they can align just right to create an eclipse. Know where you need to be to see the eclipse and how to safely view this rare celestial event.

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Eclipse Demonstrations and Activities

Learn about demonstrations and activities that will allow you and your students to explore topics regarding the eclipse and other solar science. These activities can be used as preparation leading up to the eclipse or they can be used as activities on the day of to help fill time as the eclipse progresses. The subject matter in these demonstrations and activities are cross curricular so they are of interest for many classes.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Safe Solar Observing

Lastly we will explore methods of safe solar observation and eye safety. Different methods will work for different groups so we will cover various methods of indirect and direct observation of the Sun. This section will conclude with safe solar telescope observing outside the James S. McDonnell Planetarium (weather dependent).