In case you haven’t heard the news, there’s an eclipse occurring on Monday, August 21. And while Colorado Springs is not in the path of totality (full blackout), we’re still in for a pretty cool experience. Judging from the traffic predictions, you should probably feel pretty grateful to be on the outskirts of totality. Our neighbor Wyoming, which is in the path, stands to double the population of the entire state, with epic traffic on the roads and loaded campgrounds and public lands. Our roads will also be crowded (one report predicted traffic numbers in line with six times the congestion of a Denver Broncos game).
So, if you aren’t at home, or at work, where should you try to catch the eclipse in Colorado Springs? It begins around 10:20 in the morning and should reach peak awesomeness by 11:47. This means wherever you go to watch it, you’ll want to arrive earlier. Here are a couple ideas for where to watch, plus a few tips for not ending up stuck in traffic with burnt retinas.
Expert Eclipse Observation at the Space Foundation Discovery Center
As far as eclipse party qualifications go, the Space Foundation Discovery Center is pretty much guaranteed to win. Of the many locations you can observe this awesome event, the Space Foundation will offer you an awesome education as you enjoy their solar viewing telescopes, tubes and boxes. You’ll also get to check out live feeds from other areas in the United States. They will be sharing solar eclipse glasses (NASA-approved), teaching you how to build an eclipse viewer you can take home and running a planetarium show in the inflatable planetarium. The event is included in the regular admission and runs from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Also, locals can save $2 off admission with Colorado ID. Pretty cool, right?
Peak Eclipse on Pikes Peak
Yes indeed, Pikes Peak is open for business, but this is NOT a trip you’ll want to make at the last minute. The gate opens at 7:30 a.m. and it’s likely to be busy, so get there early. However, the reward is being about as close to the sky as you can get during an event that won’t occur again at this scale in Colorado for a few years. Pack a picnic lunch, bring warm clothes and head up the mountain for an unforgettable eclipse experience. If you don’t want to go all the way to the top, stop at the reservoirs and view the eclipse as you fish. Be safe and pull over if you find yourself gawking at the sky. The highway is not one you want to drive on without paying attention.
A Total Eclipse of the Park: The Royal Gorge
Watch the wonder in the sky while suspended over one of the wonders of our earth. The Royal Gorge Park opens and 7 a.m., with rides and attractions beginning at 10 a.m. From the bridge, you can watch the changing light of the Colorado landscape as we reach maximum eclipse. If you don’t watch from the bridge, there are multiple pavilions where you can picnic and hang out as you wait for the full transition. Like Pikes Peak, you’ll want to get there early. Even though most traffic is heading north on I-25, if you have to take it south, you might still get caught if you try right around 10 a.m.
The Wild Eclipse at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Ever wondered what animals think about these cosmic interruptions? You can watch for yourself this Monday! The best part about viewing the eclipse from the comforts of the zoo is that you get to spend your wait time checking out the beautiful animals, playing in the Big Backyard, riding the Merry-Go-Round and generally carousing with a variety of cool beasties. There are multiple spots in the zoo to catch the eclipse, including riding the Sky Ride up above the zoo.
Wherever you choose to watch the eclipse, it’s imperative that you do so safely.
- Don’t look at the eclipse without eclipse glasses. You may have read you can take them off at the peak, but that only applies to people in the path of totality—which is not Colorado. No, sunglasses will not cut it. Also, be sure that your glasses aren’t random knock-offs. You can find reputable brands here. These few moments can damage your eyes for life, no joke. So, follow the rules set out by the folks who spend their lives studying the sky.
- Don’t look at it through your phone, camera, video camera, etc. If you do, you must be wearing the aforementioned glasses. If you don’t have them, you can try another method called pinhole viewing. Also, the best part of the eclipse is brief, so trying to record it could ruin them moment for you. It’s not going to be a good recording and about 800 other people will load their videos to Facebook anyway. Watch those later instead.
- Don’t view and drive. And do drive with care. Chances are, there will be traffic if you are driving during the full eclipse and many of your fellow drivers won’t be paying attention. If you feel you need to look (with glasses on), pull over. If you feel you can’t be super observant, pull over.
An eclipse of this level won’t be visible again in Colorado for a while—eclipses in the near future will only be partial. Even if you can’t venture out to one of the cool attractions above, step outside and immerse yourself in the awesomeness that is our universe.
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