What time does the solar eclipse start in the DC area? Here’s a guide to answer all your questions

Space lovers across North American have been excitedly tracking and making plans for the total solar eclipse that will take place April 8.

The “path of totality” for Monday’s total solar eclipse stretches from Mexico’s Pacific coast, crosses into Texas and 14 other U.S. states, and exits over Canada.

It will last almost twice as long, with an even wider audience, than the total solar eclipse that stretched coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 2017.

While D.C. isn’t in the eclipse’s path of totality, you still may get a glimpse of the solar wonder.

Watch NASA’s livestream below.

  • Q: What is the exact timing of the solar eclipse on Monday?
  • In D.C., the new moon will start to cross the face of the sun at 2:04 p.m. and obscure 89% of the sun at maximum eclipse, which occurs at 3:20 p.m. The moon will shroud the sun for up to 4 minutes 28 seconds, but the entire eclipse ends at 4:32 p.m.

    For more details about how the eclipse will look at your specific viewing spot, check out the resources in this article.

  • Q: How will weather factor into views of the eclipse?
  • Clouds are expected in much of the total eclipse’s path Monday thanks to storms that are moving across the central U.S. 

    However, the D.C. area has a pretty clear forecast for Monday afternoon. There will be a mix of sun and clouds, which should provide fairly good viewing conditions when the sun is eclipsed, according to 7News First Alert meteorologists.

    Check WTOP’s weather page for the most updated weather forecast.

  • Q: Do I really need eclipse glasses? Where can I get them in the D.C. area?
  • Staring directly at the sun during a solar eclipse or at any other time can lead to permanent eye damage. The eclipse is only safe to witness with the naked eye during totality, or the period of total darkness when the moon completely covers the sun.

    “There are special glasses called the eclipse glasses (that) have to meet very specific worldwide standards, ISO 12312-2. It’s not just sunglasses,” Dr. Jon LaPook told WTOP. “I know it seems like a big deal, but you really have to make sure that you don’t damage those eyes.”

    Check out this list of places in the D.C. region to get free eclipse glasses leading up to the solar event.

  • Q: Are there any solar eclipse viewing events in the D.C. region?
  • There are multitudes of viewing parties across the D.C. area, from educational events at the Smithsonian Museum’s Solar Eclipse Festival on the National Mall and the University of Maryland to nature-centered viewings at parks around Virginia.

    Get more information about these events and check out WTOP’s full list of viewing parties in this article.

  • Q: Where's the path of totality?
  • You can see a map from NASA below.

    Or you can watch a video tracking the path.

    NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio: Path of Totality
  • Q: If I am traveling somewhere to see the eclipse, what road conditions should I be prepared for?
  • Millions of people are expected to travel to witness the awe-inspiring total solar eclipse Monday.

    When the first total solar eclipse in nearly a century took place in 2017, highways in the path of totality were “very congested” both during and after totality.

    WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine has some tips for those explorers headed toward the path of totality.

  • Q: Are there any fun solar eclipse deals in the area?
  • More and more businesses are taking advantage of the total solar eclipse to promote special deals and events.

    Fast food chains and snack brands are selling limited edition versions of their products nationally. Airlines such as Southwest and Delta have advertised eclipse-viewing flight paths.


WTOP’s Greg Redfern and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Emily Venezky

Emily Venezky is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. Emily grew up listening to and reading local news in Los Angeles, and she’s excited to cover stories in her chosen home of the DMV. She recently graduated from The George Washington University, where she studied political science and journalism.

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