Here’s how to earn the BSA 2017 Solar Eclipse patch

A total solar eclipse is a rare event. A total solar eclipse whose path crosses right over the heart of the United States? Even rarer.

On Aug. 21, 2017, the solar system serves up a special treat. Aug. 21 is a Monday, but those Scouts and Venturers who are still on summer break should plan a big celebration. Like all the best celebrations, this one comes with its own patch.

There won’t be another total solar eclipse over the United States until 2024. After that, you must wait until 2045. In other words, when Aug. 21 arrives, make sure you’re ready.

How to earn the BSA 2017 Solar Eclipse patch

  1. Locate a site suitable for viewing the eclipse. Search Google for “eclipse viewing” and the name of your city or town to find events near you.
  2. Describe how to safely view the eclipse.
    • Never look directly at the sun. Instead, look directly at these tips from NASA on how to view the eclipse safely.
  3. Discuss with your group what you saw and felt during the eclipse.
    • Post your comments and eclipse photos on social media using the hashtag #BSAEclipse2017.
  4. Do the following:
    • Cub Scouts: Discuss what a solar eclipse is with your leaders.
    • Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts: Draw a diagram of the positions of the moon, earth, and sun to show how the solar eclipse occurs.
    • Venturers: Research Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington’s 1919 experiment and discuss how it confirmed Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
  5. Ask your unit leader to buy the 2017 Solar Eclipse patch.
    • You’ll find it at your local council service center.

More ideas

Find more ways to make the most of this STEM-heavy celestial event at


  1. This is great! Longs Peak Council is having a weekend event at Camp Laramie Peak and this will be a great addition to that program!

      • Hmmmm….. I did not realize celestial events could be scheduled, or I would have ordered one for educational purposes long ago. I apologize for the smart-alec response, but I have dealt with many young and old silly questions (no such thing as a stupid question) for far too long. I know you meant to say calculated. May all of your Scouts safely enjoy the view!

  2. Anyway you could add the National Supply item number so folks can order them? Looked it up on SCOUTSTUFF.ORG and it is not listed

    • I am not the Patch Police, but as in most Cub Scout things, I would say “do your best”. Not everyone will be able to (or want to ) travel to the path of totality. I’d say 85% is PDC. Make sure you do your viewing SAFELY. Even a partial eclipse is NOT safe to view directly without special lenses. Use projection. Go to an astronomy club event. Pin hole projection would be a great idea/project for Cubs and even older Scouts. Jaded teenager? Ha. Wished I’d been on granddad’s porch for “When Haley Came to Jackson in 1910”. (look up the song….)

      • Planning on having my WEBELOS make pin hole projectors and have a great location already set out. Plus I’ll be setting up my GoPro with a filter to catch it. I really appreciate the response. Checking with the local Planetarium if they have any coordinating events.

    • Possibly not the intent of the award, but if you read requirements carefully nowhere does it state that you must actually view the eclipse.

      Just identify a place to view it, and then describe what you saw during the time of the eclipse. So identifying the states or some particular city from which it is visible would satisfy first part. Doesn’t say you have to go to that place.

      If you’re outside the viewing area and saw nothing unusual, that’s admittedly nowhere near as exciting as seeing eclipse. but it’s still a worthwhile experience to discuss and compare with what others inside viewing area would see.

      Another ‘place’ to view eclipse could be in your own living room, via a live feed on internet of a place that is within it’s path.

      • Great point about the requirements, Doug! The NASA TV channel has already begun some great eclipse programming, and they will be having live coverage on Eclipse Day.

      • I’m afraid this what we are planning. The path of the ecipse will not be far from home but the traffic will be terrible and the accommodations are long gone.

        I think we will also read A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. 🙂

      • One must observe the eclipse some way some how. What’s the point otherwise? It can be via direct observation partial or total, rain or shine or via a LIVE stream on the internet.

    • You can not safely observe the eclipse without solar filters, or eclipse glasses, unless you are in the path of totality. Even at 99% eclipsed the sun will damage your eyes without protection. You must be safe while observing the eclipse.

      • “unless you are in the path of totality”
        This is scary advice. Just being in the path of totality does not make you safe. Even if you are in the path of totality, you will experience a partial eclipse before and after totality. There is danger during these periods. It is safe only during totality. And you better time the event to make sure that you are averting your eyes before totality ends.

  3. How do you earn this if you dont live in the exact path of the eclipse? Is this patch only available to those states that can see it!!

  4. Looks like this is only for youth. What about those adults that aren’t associated with a unit?

    I intend to do this for the neighbors around me since I have binoculars and a tripod.

    • Makes sure you are SAFE viewing! Project, do not look DIRECTLY at the sun in partial….

      Many websites to advise how to avoid being PERMANENTLY blinded by doing the WRONG thing.

    • Paul, *please* check the safe viewing instructions shared above ( Looking at the partially eclipsed sun through binoculars, a camera or any magnifying device or even with your naked eye could be spectacularly dangerous … an ill-timed momentary peek at the tail end of the totality could cause permanent visual damage. You would best serve your neighbors by purchasing viewing glasses and/or plates (you can get them on Amazon … No. 14 welder’s glass is also safe. teaching kids how to make pinhole projectors, teaching them to observe what happens to the shadow of the sun as filtered through leaves during the partial phase, etc.

  5. Why are the requirements for this patch so anemic? This is nothing more than a participation trophy, and the Scout doesn’t even participate in the eclipse.

    If I were head of the Boy Scouts I would make a requirement for this Solar Eclipse patch:

    1) You had to travel to see the solar eclipse
    2) Make from scratch your own solar lens filter
    3) Take a photo of the eclipse with your phone and post to social media to prove you were there
    4) Draw a diagram showing what happens during a solar eclipse
    5) Explain what happens during the eclipse.

    • Friend Agnew: Yep. I missed the one up in Nova Scotia a while back. I look forward to our family camping trip to Tennessee. Made the reservations months ago.
      Patch? I would not say anemic. It is not a “rank” (anemic ranks? we can have that debate another time). It is, indeed, a “participation trophy”. Earn the Astronomy MB if you want academic rigor. Not everyone can or will be able to see the effects of such an event. We are blessed to live in a time when such things can be so accurately predicted.
      Travel? As much as possible. With all the folks traveling to be in the path , even of partiality, it will be a wonder the earth doesn’t wobble a bit from the shifting of mass 🙂
      Make a solar lens filter? There’s a project. 100% welders lens. Pinhole projection.
      Phone photo? I suspect even a phone camera will need a heavy filter or be burned out by folks trying to camera the sun. Not to mention their own eyeball.
      Diagram? see the original requirements above.
      Explain? Well, that is asked of the Scout in every level. Older Scouts explaining Eddington’s experiment is a good idea, yes?
      Don’t forget to bang on your pot to drive the dragon away !

    • I agree with you exexpt that a scout should have to post it on social media. I am under 13 so I can’t have a social media account.

    • Except that it isn’t because the point of it is for the scouts to learn something about eclipses, the problem with traveling to it is that most of the scouts will all be back in school that day. What if they are in school and the school is not providing them an opportunity to witness it? And your items #4 and #5 are already required. You are essentially preventing some from earning it through no fault of their own.

      • Our local schools are not planning at this point any official viewing opportunities to the students. I’ve already begun contacting principals to work out a viewing event for my scouts. They have a greed to allow our adult leadership to meet with the scouts on school grounds with parental permission. It’s worth checking in to. Travelling to the path of totality would be an entirely different challenge.

    • It is a patch, not a badge mr. Agnew. I though patches were for doing/ learning/ experiencing something.

    • This patch is not a merit badge so the requirements should be easier. In my opinion this patch brings knowledge about the eclipse. Gives the scout (whatever rank) general information about solar eclipses. If a Boy Scout enjoys earning this patch, a scouter could recommend the astromony merit badge as a follow up to this event. Nothing more than some fun learning for everyone.

  6. Anyone asking about how much Occlusion is needed, just re-read the page. You get the patch viewing it rain or shine. You can view it over the internet if it’s cloudy. As long as everyone is participating and learning, thats all that matters.

  7. If you are up for traveling, Boxwell Reservation in Middle Tennessee is in the path of totality and hosting an Eclipse campout! Online registration is closed, but you could probably call the camping department of Middle Tennessee Council for more info. $25/scout, t-shirt, and patch included…

    • I sent an e-mail to the council secretary hoping to get forwarded along to Boxwell. My family has already planned a road trip from the Philadelphia suburbs to Nashville to come see the eclipse, and it’s serendipitous that I saw your post, as I wasn’t sure exactly where we were going to watch the eclipse. If I can get in on the party on Monday, that’d be great for my two cubs. Thanks for the info!

      • Peter…I am glad I saw this posting. I was excited for the info thst Peggy passed along to you and investigated myself. I too am from the Philly suburbs and was able to find the registration info. If you go to the website for Middle TN Council, you can find information on the campout that will take you to the doubleknot registration page. Fortunately I was able to register. Unfortunately I will not make it until Sunday morning as I have scheduled some other outings for my son and I while we travel down there. Good luck.

  8. You can’t observe at night, it’s a solar eclipse not a lunar eclipse. There is a very short window of time.

  9. If you go to the actual website link above you will see that it is for either the total eclipse or a partial eclipse so anyone in the US can earn.

  10. The whole deal about this is that there will be 100% occlusion, that it’s a total eclipse. Sure, most people in the world will only see a partial eclipse, but if you travel this one is a total eclipse. An image like one of the following would be more appropriate, in my opinion: (an actual total eclipse)×500/total-solar-elipse-diamondring-beads.jpg?1 (the “diamond ring”)

    Either one of those would be better than this crescent near-miss patch.

  11. My other post may have been eaten because I linked to images, but this patch should be of a total eclipse, i.e. a shining corona around a black circle (the same but with the “diamond ring” effect would also be ok). The big thing about this one is that it’s a total eclipse, not a near-miss.

    • if the patch showed the total eclipse, you wouldn’t be able to look at it when you sewed it on…it would burn your eyes.

  12. Great news ! The Middle Tennessee Council is hosting The Great Eclipse Campout and we have over 2600 Scouters registered from as far away as Maryland ! We are directly in the path of totality and should enjoy about 2.5 minutes of darkness. Tee shirts, patches, merit badge work, shooting sports, adventure loops, crafts, space based movies, campfires – it will all be here. Registration just closed but will reopen around July 7 for a very limited time – come join us before we are full ! Call our Sherry in camping at 615.383.9724 x 8246 if you have questions. If you want a patch and tee shirt you would have to call her THIS WEEK. After that, limited quantities on site for attendees only. NOTE: we are also providing the special solar eclipse viewing glasses and there will be speakers to teach about the eclipse at the camp.

  13. I’d really be interested in how adults could “earn” a patch too! We would be participating along with the boys! We would have numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 covered. Please add on a task for #4 for us as well!!

    • It’s not clear what the dimensions of the patch are.
      But, if it’s too large to fit on the right pocket of the field uniform as temporary insignia, it should still be able to fit on the back side of the merit badge sash.

  14. We are in the DIRECT line of it. Jefferson City, MO. Our dance troupe (aka flash mob) is doing ‘dancing in the dark’…..which btw, we are opening up to EVERYONE to learn the choreography and take part. It’s on you tube.

    OF course, 99% of you guys are not here, but in the case some of you ARE… are welcome to join us.

    Not sure if our troop is doing anything or not. This town is going to be INSANE! I’ll actually be locking doors and even locking the stables that weekend. I generally don’t lock things. But mob mentality brings out the worst in people. Not chancing it.

  15. My Weblo Scout an I going to St. Joseph MO .. primitive camp of $40 and camping I am from St. Joseph so my hometown travel of 4 hours from st. Louis

  16. Even if you are in a place the total eclipse shadow will cover, you might have clouds. So this is a planning and learning patch. I’m good with that. This will probably be the most photographed event in history. Be careful.

  17. One last thing about the Middle Tennessee Eclipse Campout – it is still open and, regardless of what it says, will close around July 17. We are up to about 2900 participants…….I do not think they will let it get much above 3500.

  18. Know what kind of patch would be really cool? One that would you could customize to your location. It would have the same design as above, but it would come in parts: the white background of the sun, and black foreground of the moon’s dark side. One would shift the foreground patch to cover the amount of sun that was eclipsed from your vantage point.

    Extra special: additional solar spin axis, sunspot, or flair devices to mark precisely what you observed! That way, someone with really good orienteering skills could figure out which part of the country you were in when you saw it!

  19. My Eagle Scout is a member of three astronomy clubs here in Michigan. He encourages Scouts to join the largest club. In addition a few Scout Eagle projects, including his, were for the astronomy club. He and I (also an astronomer) are driving to Casper, Wyoming to attend a big astronomy national convention and will see the Eclipse there. He is going to the Jamboree and age out of scouting two days after the Eclipse. This will be a memorable Summer for him!

  20. Check out the new US postage stamps for the Eclipse. First time ever for a heat sensitive ink. It shows the Eclipse with a black moon. When you touch the stamp all of the moon details show up. When cooled it reverts to the Eclipse view. These are Forever stamps and come in a sheet of 16 stamps. Back of sheet shows path of totality across US. Great keepsake for Scouts.

  21. We’re going to be camping Saturday through Monday (our local school district starts on Tuesday, thankfully) and doing some cleanup/pickup of neighboring camps as a service project afterwords. It’ll be great to have a patch to commemorate this rare event.

  22. To all Scouts, Scouters, family and friends:
    Enjoy the eclipse total or partial, rain or shine or directly or live feed via the internet or TV. Just do it and and enjoy one of nature’s truly remarkable event.

  23. Bryan…just found out that these patches will NOT be available at the Scout Shops/Service Centers. They must be ordered/are ordered through National Supply.

  24. Welding helmets work great. Ensure it is at least a shade 10. Electronic ones are easily adjustable just by turning a dial, but many can be turned down to 8 and that may not provide enough protection so use would need to be monitored. Sure, not everyone has access to welding helmets, but you may know someone or the other youth in your troops/packs may know someone. I own two, so will be opening them out.

  25. Here in Kansas City Missouri school will have already started in the north Kansas City School District. They are planning a big event for all the students including special glasses to view and workshops to teach them about the eclipse.

    Just thought you might like to know.

    Happy viewing to all

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