A solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. (Photo: NASA)

So you want to experience the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse but you don’t want to travel that far. We understand. We all have lives, jobs, families and stuff to do. 

Fortunately, nearly all the major attractions downtown (or close by) are hosting viewing events Aug. 21. Sure, you could drive to Ocoee or Athens to fight the crowds for a 100 percent experience, but Chattanooga’s 99.5 percent isn’t too shabby, right?

Regardless of how you plan to watch the eclipse, make sure you do it safely. Here are some local places to purchase approved safety glasses for the event.


In Chattanooga, the eclipse will start at 1:02 p.m., and 99.55 percent of the sun’s light will be covered at 2:32 p.m.

Here are some places to gather during the eclipse.

Tennessee Aquarium
Sure, the first solar eclipse in 100 years is exciting for humans, but can you imagine how the animals will feel? The Tennessee Aquarium invites people to observe the lemurs, the American alligators and the songbirds during the eclipse’s totality. As organizers have noted, there really isn’t a lot of scientific observation of how animals will react to the sudden change. Aquarium visitors will be able to view the 99 percent eclipse at 1:02 p.m. and watch NASA’s “megacast” in the auditorium of the River Journey Building. Click here for more information. The Tennessee Aquarium is located at 1 Broad St.

Reflection Riding
If you want to feel like you’re out in the country while sticking relatively close to downtown, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center is the best place for you. The large acreage allows for plenty of observation and parking. Staff naturalists will also help you safely view the event. Guests who purchase a $10 pass will receive a free pair of safety glasses. Members gain free entry. Click here for more information. Reflection Riding is located at 400 Garden Road.

Chattanooga Zoo
The Tennessee Aquarium might have lemurs, but the Chattanooga Zoo also has a host of mammals, reptiles and other residents that will be interesting to observe during the eclipse. The zoo—in partnership with Sunny 92.3—will host the viewing party from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Glasses for the event can be picked up at The Ice Cream Show. Kids will receive free admission to the event if they bring glasses. Click here for more information. The zoo is located at 301 N. Holtzclaw Ave.

It doesn’t get more casual than this party by GreenSpaces. In partnership with Tennessee Solar Solutions and The Crash Pad, guests will meet at GreenSpaces—in the air conditioning—and then visit The Crash Pad for viewing of the eclipse. Glasses, snacks and beverages will be provided. Admission is free. Click here for more information. Green Spaces is located at 63 E. Main St.

Rock City
See seven states in complete darkness as Rock City hosts Rock the Eclipse from noon until 3 p.m. Meteorologist David Karnes and personalities with J103 will be on-site for the eclipse excitement. Safety glasses will be available for purchase while supplies last. The event is free with entry into the park ($11.95 to $19.95). Rock City is located at 1400 Patten Road.