Rare 'ring of fire' eclipse event Saturday
An annular solar eclipse creates a "ring of fire" around the moon, similar to what is seen in this image taken by the JAXA/NASA Hinode spacecraft. A "ring of fire" eclipse will take place Saturday across the U.S. and into Central and Southern America.
Image via science.nasa.gov
Hagadone News Network | October 13, 2023 1:00 AM
A rare "ring of fire" annular solar eclipse will form overhead Saturday morning.
Although North Idaho isn't directly in the path of annularity, those who look to the skies with proper eclipse-viewing glasses should be in for a celestial treat. The eclipse over Coeur d'Alene will begin at 8:09 a.m., maximize at 9:23 a.m. and conclude at 10:44 a.m., by calculations of the U.S. Navy's online Solar Eclipse Computer.
In Bonner County, the eclipse is slated to start at 8:10 a.m., maximize at 9:24 a.m., and conclude by 10:44 p.m., according to the U.S. Navy's online Solar Eclipse Computer.
Annular solar eclipses occur when the moon is near or at its farthest point from Earth. The sun won't be entirely blocked out by the small-looking moon as it passes between planet and star, thus creating a brilliant "ring of fire" effect of sunlight around the moon at the peak of the eclipse.
"What I’ve heard the weather forecasters say, which is totally wrong, is because the moon is smaller we will not get totality. That gives the impression that the moon is variable in size," astronomer John Taylor, of Hayden, said Thursday. "The moon's orbit is not circular, it's orbital, that's what causes super moons. This is a case where the moon is farther away so it can't cover the entire surface of the sun."
The eclipse will cross North, Central and South America and is expected to be seen by millions of people in the Western Hemisphere.
"For NASA, this eclipse provides a unique opportunity to study the sun, using this eclipse as a way to test and prepare scientific equipment for the total solar eclipse in April 2024," NASA said on its website, science.nasa.gov. "NASA will also launch sounding rockets during the eclipse to study changes in the atmosphere."
Using lunar topography data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's SELENE lunar orbiter, a map of the precise calculation of the location of the moon's shadow has been posted at science.nasa.gov/eclipses/media-resources. The path of annularity and partial visibility crossing the U.S. is shown to be over central and southern Oregon and stretches southeast to Texas, sweeping farther to the southeast.
North Idaho will be in the 70-80% range of obscuration of the sun during the eclipse, according to NASA data.
Taylor witnessed the last annular solar eclipse from Mount Lassen in California 2012. He said the big difference between a total solar eclipse and an annular eclipse is how bright it is.
"Don't look directly at it," he said. "You can get away with it for a few seconds with a total solar eclipse, but not this one. You will need those good-looking eclipse glasses to see this one, or use a piece of cardboard with a pinhole in it and let that cast a shadow on the ground and you will see the eclipse."
Visit eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/projection for viewing gear options.
It may be a challenge to see the full spectacle, as cloudy skies are forecasted.
Taylor said he'll spend Saturday morning "swearing at the clouds" that will obscure the eclipse.
"We are not going to see it," he said. "It's unfortunate but true."
The most southwestern corner of Idaho and areas across Oregon will receive the best viewing experience from within the full annularity zones.