Solar Eclipse Viewing parties and events in Southwest & Central Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With the solar eclipse less than two weeks away, you are probably looking for the best spot to witness the phenomenon. Well, you may be in luck as many locations across Central and Southwest Virginia are hosting viewing parties, giving guests great locations to view the eclipse.

According to the Virginia Department of Conservation, the eclipse’s visibility will depend on location and weather. However, depending on the park, the moon will block the sun between 76 and 90 percent, making listed locations a great spot to watch.

Here are some locations where viewing parties will be taking place on April 8:

Smith Mountain Lake Park: Come on out to the lake and be a part of this rare and amazing celestial event! Starting at 2:00 p.m., Smith Mountain Lake Park in Huddleston will be hosting an eclipse viewing. Along with the eclipse, the park’s interpreter will be at the Discovery Center Pavilion between 2:00 p.m. and 4 p.m. to answer eclipse-related questions and provide fun astronomy activities.

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For Smith Mountain Lake Park, the eclipse will begin at 1:57 p.m., peak at 3:15 p.m., and end at 4:29 p.m.

The event is free for all; however, regular parking fees will still apply.

Natural Bridge State Park: A viewing party will take place at the Children’s Discovery Area at Natural Bridge State Park starting at 2:00 p.m. At the state park, the moon will reportedly cover 87% of the sun.

The eclipse will start at 2:00 p.m., peaking at 3:12 p.m. before finishing at 4:00 p.m.

There are no admission or parking fees for this event, with parking available at the Skyline Trail trailhead. However, solar eclipse glasses will be available for $1 on-site.

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New River Trail State Park: The New River Trail in Max Meadows will be holding a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party starting at 1:30 p.m. The eclipse will begin at 1:54 p.m. and peak at 3:13 p.m. with 86.2% of the sun obscured.

No registration is required for the public, but there will be standard parking fees. New River Trail State Park will have eclipse glasses available for sale for $1.

Solar Eclipse Viewing at Explore Park: Explore Park, located at Milepost 115 just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke, will open their zipline course for children ages 7-18 for the solar eclipse. Admission costs $10 per person participating for 90 minutes of ziplining through the trees during the eclipse.

Guests can also bring a chair or blanket to sit and watch the eclipse from Explore Park, as safety glasses will be provided for free to guests as supplies last.

To register for ziplining, visit this link.

Solar Eclipse Party at Roanoke County Libraries: Several Roanoke County Library branches will be hosting eclipse parties from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register to join the eclipse party and get a pair of glasses when you arrive for the event. It will be one pair of glasses per family or group. There will be snacks and astronomically cool crafts as well!

To register for these viewing parties and see which location is closest to you, visit Roanoke County’s website.

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Solar Eclipse Viewing at Mill Mountain: Join Roanoke Parks and Recreation Naturalists on Mill Mountain for a solar eclipse viewing event starting at 12:30 p.m. The eclipse is expected to begin at 1:57 p.m., peak at 3:15 p.m., and end at 4:29 p.m.

Registration is not required but will guarantee a pair of Eclipse Viewing Glasses. Registration for the event will cost $2.

For more information or to register, visit this link.

Virginia Tech viewing on the Drillfield: Virginia Tech’s College of Science and the Department of Physics will host a solar eclipse viewing event for hundreds of students, faculty, and staff. Blacksburg will experience approximately 88% coverage, with the peak happening around 3 p.m.

Viewing glasses will be supplied so attendees can safely observe the eclipse. There will also be ten solar telescopes available for guests to have a more detailed view of the eclipse. The College of Sciences will raffle off 250 shirts designed for the event and attendees will be able to enjoy ‘celestial treats.’

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