GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Mark your calendars for a celestial event like no other.
The U.S. will be treated to an annular solar eclipse Saturday, October, 14th, 2023. While our region isn’t in the path to see the “ring of fire” aspect of the eclipse, our sun will be partially obscured by our moon.
Unlike a total solar eclipse where the moon covers the sun completely, which we’ll see in April 2024, an annular eclipse is when the moon covers nearly the entire sun except the outer edge creating a “ring of fire” look.
For most in our region, the moon will cover roughly 30-40% of our sun during the height of the eclipse. The moons shadow will cross through Oregon on the west coast and travel southeast towards the Gulf Coast of Texas.
For those of us in West Virginia and Virginia, the eclipse begins at 11:51 AM with the eclipse maximum at 1:13 PM and ending at 2:37 PM. However, at just 30-40% eclipsed, we’ll need help in viewing the eclipse from our location. Even at 60% power, the sun is immensely bright which will make looking at it directly extremally dangerous.
If you don’t have access to specialized eclipse viewing glasses like those used in the 2017 U.S. total eclipse, there are way to safely watch the eclipse made from items already in your home.
NASA offers steps on creating a cereal box eclipse viewer which only needs a few household items to complete. A cereal box, heavy duty aluminum foil, a piece of white cardboard or cardstock paper, a sheet of paper, scissors, and tape or glue. Instructions for how to build it can be found here.
Cereal Box Eclipse Viewer
For something a little simpler that can be enjoyed by more than one person, a pin hole eclipse projector can be useful. This method utilizes an age old method in photography found in pinhole cameras. A small hole in a piece of cardboard or thick paper can be used to create an image on the ground of the eclipse. Helping to avoid direct viewing of the sun. Photo credit: NASA JPL
Instructions for this method can be found on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.
There are also special filters and lenses for telescopes, cameras, and binoculars for viewing the sun found through retailers like Amazon or other photography stores. Much like a welders mask, the lenses block just about all of the harmful light emitted by the sun. Direct viewing of the sun, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “can severely burn your retina in seconds” leading to blindness. Especially if viewed through the lens of a camera, telescope, or binoculars. Think of how a magnifying glass and the sun can burn leaves.
While the event will be a wonder to “look at” remember to enjoy it safely. If you happen to miss the eclipse this October 14th, a total solar eclipse will take place on April 8th, 2024 which our region looks to really get a good show from. Our sun will be 90% blocked with the line of totality just towards our west.