October 14, 2022: A year from today an annular or ring eclipse is visible along a path from Oregon to South America. Four bright planets are visible during the nighttime hours.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
One year from today, the shadow of an annular or ring eclipse crosses the U.S. from Oregon to Texas. The eclipse path runs into the Gulf of Mexico, crosses the Yucatan Peninsula, Central America, Columbia, and Brazil.
The shadow first touches North America about 8 a.m. PDT. It races south and eastward. The ring eclipse ends in the U.S. as the clock approaches 2 p.m. CDT.
A partial eclipse is visible for cities near the eclipse path and across the continent. For Chicago sky watchers, the partial phase begins at 10:37 a.m. CDT and reaches its maximum at 11:58 a.m. when 43% of the sun is covered. The eclipse ends at 1:22 p.m.
Solar eclipses occur when the moon moves in front of the sun, casting a shadow on the ground. A total eclipse occurs when there’s a perfect match of sun and moon. The sun’s surface disappears and the solar corona – sometimes called the sun’s atmosphere – is visible. The corona is hot but its intensity is overwhelmed by the blinding light from the photosphere – the part of the sun that bathes the planets and moon with daylight.
An annular or ring eclipse occurs when there is a perfect match, but the moon is too far away from Earth to completely cover the solar photosphere. An annulus or ring of sunlight is visible around the moon at the maximum eclipse.
Other observers outside the narrow strip see a partial eclipse of the sun.
It is essential that sky watchers should never look directly at the sun. Its rays can permanently damage the eye. The effects of viewing a solar eclipse are no different from any other day. Normally, we turn from the sun’s glare, push down the car visor, or hold up our hands to shield our eyes from the brilliance.
During an eclipse, there is interest to look sunward and the sun’s overall dazzle is diminished somewhat by the moon’s presence. The amount of sun that is showing, regardless of the size, can damage eyesight.
The safest way to observe an eclipse is by projecting it through tiny holes, like those from a food colander or a straw hat. Holes can be poked into foil that is placed over openings in cardboard. Place a white background on the ground to see the eclipse. The overlapping leaves of trees create natural pinholes. The spots of light that are visible on non-eclipse days turn into crescents during an eclipse. When the wind blows, the crescents dance on the ground.
Make your plans for next October’s eclipse and observe it safely.
Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the eastern sky after sunset. Mars follows them a few hours later and is high in the sky before sunup. Mercury is low in the east at 45 minutes before sunrise.
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