As an annular solar “ring of fire” eclipse crosses the sky in the western half of the U.S. over the weekend, how visible will the astronomical event be from Massachusetts?
Unfortunately for local science and space lovers, New England is not in a great spot for this weekend’s alignment of the sun and moon. Also, it could be pretty cloudy with a chance for rain, so that won’t help the view either.
If you’re in the Boston-area on midday Saturday, only about 17% of the sun will be covered by the moon at the max of the eclipse. About 83% of the sun will be uncovered, meaning it will still be very bright if it’s not cloudy at the time.
“What we’re going to have in Boston is not much,” Talia Sepersky, of the Museum of Science’s Charles Hayden Planetarium, told the Herald ahead of Saturday’s event.
“On a perfectly clear day, only 17% of the sun would be covered, so you probably wouldn’t notice,” Sepersky added. “We’re not particularly well placed for this one.”
The best zone in the U.S. to view the solar eclipse will stretch from Oregon to Texas. The solar eclipse begins in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PDT, and ends in Texas at 12:03 p.m. CDT.
Annular solar eclipses get their name from a ring of bright sunlight, or annulus. The “ring of fire” is visible around the moon during the maximum phase of this type of eclipse.
During an annular eclipse, the moon is too far from the Earth to completely obscure the sun.
“An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is at its farthest point in its orbit, and it cannot fully cover the disk of the sun,” Sepersky said.
“Even in the 100% zone, it will not be safe to look at it without appropriate eye protection because the sun won’t be fully covered,” Sepersky added.
Anyone in the Boston-area who’s trying to catch a glimpse of the astronomical event needs to get a pair of certified eclipse glasses or special binoculars/telescopes for solar eclipses.
“You cannot look at the sun without appropriate eye protection,” Sepersky said. “It’s not safe to look with sunglasses as long as any part of the sun is exposed.”
While Saturday’s eclipse won’t be much for the Boston-area and New England, a total solar eclipse will cover much more of the sun this spring.
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from Texas to Maine. The path of totality will cross Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and Maine.