Driftless Dark Skies: Partial Solar Eclipse
The New Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth on the morning of Saturday, October 14th, and skywatchers in the Driftless Area and beyond can enjoy the amazing sight of a partial solar eclipse! Staring at the Sun can cause eye damage, but you can watch it safely using eclipse glasses or by projecting an image. All the details are at https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety.
If you are in the Driftless Area of WI/MN/IA/IL, the eclipse begins around 10:30 am when the New Moon takes its first “bite” out of the Sun. Maximum eclipse occurs just before noon when almost half of the Sun is obscured. Then it all plays out in reverse, and the eclipse ends around 1:15 pm when the Sun resumes its regular round shape. If you are viewing beyond the Driftless Area or want to know the timing to the second, you can get specifics for your location at https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/
Last time we saw a partial eclipse this good was August 21, 2017 when 85% of the Sun was covered. Folks who woke up early on June 10, 2021 got to see a brief eclipse as the Sun was rising. And there will be more every few years. I love the experience of watching the strange shapes of the Sun. And I appreciate the rare chance to see a New Moon which is normally invisible to us.
While partial solar eclipses are interesting, I really encourage you to be awed by a total solar eclipse at least once in your life. And you can do that on April 8. 2024 when the shadow of the Moon passes across North America. You can be in the path of totality with an easy day trip to Missouri or Illinois or Indiana. All the details are at https://eclipse.aas.org/eclipse-america-2024. If you are waiting for totality to come to the Driftless Area, be sure to mark September 14, 2099 on your calendar.
John Heasley is an astronomy educator and stargazer who enjoys connecting people with the cosmos. He volunteers with NASA/JPL as a Solar System Ambassador , with the International Dark-Sky Association as an Advocate, and the International Astronomical Union as a Dark Sky Ambassador. For more information about stargazing in southwest WI, like Driftless Stargazing LLC on Facebook and find out whenever there’s something awesome happening in the skies.
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