WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – The noonday sky will put on a spectacular show this Saturday, and Baylor University is sharing some things to know about it.
The university says that the annular solar eclipse will be visible in North America for the first time since 2012. Unlike a total solar eclipse, an annular eclipse means that the outer corona of the sun will be visible, producing a beautiful “Ring of Fire.”
The western part of the Texas hill country will be the best place to view the eclipse in Texas. Odessa, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Padre Island will have 100 percent visibility. Waco will have a slightly partial view, with 84.55 percent of the eclipse visible.
Baylor University astrophysicist Barbara Castanheira Endl, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, says the conditions must be perfect for this natural phenomenon to occur. The sun and the moon must be exactly in line with the Earth. As they cross paths, the moon will appear slightly smaller than the sun.
“Following Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, during an annular eclipse, the ellipticity of the orbit will cause the angular size of the moon to be just a little bit smaller than the angular size of the sun,” Castanheira-Endl said. “Even a small five percent difference in the angles of the sun and the moon, the eclipse would not occur.”
According to NASA, the annular eclipse will have four phases lasting over three hours. The “Ring of Fire” will only be visible during the second phase for six minutes.
- First Contact: At 10:23 a.m. CDT, the moon will begin moving into place. The sun will begin to look like a crescent or “C” shape.
- Second Contact: At 11:53 a.m. CDT, the moon will pass completely in front of the sun reaching full annularity. Only the outer edge of the sun will be visible, creating the dazzling “Ring of Fire” effect. The sky will grow dimmer but not completely dark and the temperature will feel cooler. Some animals act like it is dusk.
- Third Contact: At 11:59 a.m. CDT, the moon will slowly move away from the sun.
- Fourth: At 1:31 p.m. CDT, the moon will have moved past the sun and the eclipse will be over.
The university also says that eye protection is essential, because the sun is not completely blocked during an annular eclipse. Never look directly at the sun without special-purpose protective eyewear designed for viewing an eclipse.
Eclipse glasses or viewers are thousands of times darker than regular glasses, and are necessary to view an eclipse safely. To make sure you have real safe solar glasses and not a counterfeit, the American Astronomical Society has complied list of safe solar viewers that comply with international standards.
If you don’t have eclipse glasses, the AAS has tips on how to view the eclipse with pinhole projection. Anything with holes, like a colander or slotted spoon, can be used for pinhole projection.