Welcome to the 184th edition of 6 Storm Team Starwatch. This is a blog that will be updated every Friday and will list events happening in the sky.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

What’s happening?

This coming Saturday an annular solar eclipse will take place across North, Central and South America (NASA). Portions of the United States will be in the path of annularity (NASA). Those in the path of annularity will be able to see all phases of the solar eclipse and will see the maximum obstruction of the Sun by the Moon (NASA).

What is an annular solar eclipse?

This annular solar eclipse is different from the total solar eclipse we had a few years ago. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in between the Sun and the Earth when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth (NASA). This is called apogee (NASA). Because the Moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth in its orbit, it appears smaller in the sky (NASA). As a result, it is not large enough for it to appear to cover the entire Sun from our perspective (NASA). This is why during an annular solar eclipse, the Moon looks like a dark disc on top of the Sun, with a ring of light around the Moon, sometimes called a “ring of fire” for those in the path of annularity (NASA).

Do I need my eclipse glasses to view this?

During an annular solar eclipse, the Sun is never completely covered by the Moon (even for those in the path of annularity), meaning there is no period of totality, so you must ALWAYS wear your eclipse glasses (NASA). Remember though to NEVER use your eclipse glasses with cameras, telescopes or binoculars as the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury (NASA).

What if I don’t have my solar eclipse glasses? Can I still watch the eclipse?

Yes! Even if you don’t have any solar eclipse glasses, you can still watch the solar eclipse by using an indirect method that doesn’t involve looking directly at the Sun (NASA). One way to do this is by creating a pinhole projector which will project the image of the Sun onto a surface (NASA). You can learn how to make a pinhole projector here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/

What can we expect here in East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky?

Here in East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky, we will be able to see a partial solar eclipse (NASA). For our area, we will see between 40% and 50% coverage of the Sun by the Moon, so the “ring of fire” phenomena will not be visible for us (Tony Rice, NASA). These are the three phases of an annular solar eclipse: partial eclipse, annularity and partial eclipse (NASA). Here in East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky remember we will not be able to see annularity, but we will have a moment of maximum eclipse (Tony Rice, NASA). Here is a look at times of the annular solar eclipse for Knoxville on Saturday, October 14th:

  • Partial Eclipse begins at 11:43 AM EDT
  • Maximum Eclipse occurs at 1:10 PM EDT (the Sun will be 46.8% obscured by the Moon)
  • Partial Eclipse ends at 2:40 PM EDT

Information courtesy of Tony Rice, NASA

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