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Remembering Washington, D.C.’s past solar eclipses

Take a blast to the past with the National Archives’ newest exhibition

Time-lapsed photos of the solar eclipse on February 26, 1979.
All images courtesy of the National Archives

On Monday, August 21, those in Washington, D.C., will be able to see a partial solar eclipse with the moon obscuring up to 82 percent of the sun. This is the first time in almost 100 years that a total solar eclipse will cross the entire nation. To celebrate this momentous natural phenomenon, the National Archives will feature a brand new exhibition from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m on the day of the event.

Included in the exhibition are photos of past eclipses, past presidents viewing the eclipse, illustrations of the solar eclipse of 1878, and original documents patenting apparatuses for observing solar eclipses.

On August 21, the building’s Education department will also demonstrate how to safely view the eclipse. As part of the event, the National Archives will allow visitors to peek at the solar eclipse through safe solar telescopes.

Amber Kraft, education specialist at the National Archives, told Curbed DC, "When most people think of the National Archives, they think of the Deceleration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, but we have so much more than that ... The upcoming eclipse will generate new records and science that will eventually become part of the holdings of the Archives. We are excited to share with our visitors a taste of past eclipses as they experience history and science in the making."

Still looking for other places in the D.C. area to peek up at the solar eclipse? Check out this helpful map, published by Curbed DC.

Be sure to not look directly at the sun without any protection. Grab yourself a pair of solar eclipse glasses at these locations.

President Herbert Hoover viewing the eclipse.

Solar Eclipses: Past and Present [National Archives]

National Archives Building

700 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20408 Visit Website