Oct 13, 2023 - Science

How to see Saturday's solar eclipse

Data: NASA; Map: Will Chase/Axios

A rare chance to see a solar eclipse arrives Saturday for most of the country.

The big picture: It depends on where you're located if you'll be able to see an annular solar eclipse — also known as a "ring of fire" eclipse — or a partial solar eclipse.

  • An annular solar eclipse will darken skies above a narrow swath of the country stretching from the coast of Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast, according to NASA.
  • It's the last annular solar eclipse that will be visible from the U.S. until 2039.
  • Those not in the line of the annular eclipse in the continental U.S. and parts of Alaska will have the chance to see a partial solar eclipse.
  • Eclipse glasses are needed to safely view both the annular or partial eclipse, NASA said.

What is an annular solar eclipse?

An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth while the moon is at its farthest point from Earth, per NASA.

  • Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the sun and doesn't completely cover it.
  • This causes the moon to appear as a "dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk," creating the "ring of fire" effect, NASA said.

What is a partial solar eclipse?

A partial solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth but the three don't perfectly line up.

  • With a partial eclipse, only a part of the Sun will appear to be covered, which gives it a crescent shape.

States in "ring of fire" eclipse path

The annular solar eclipse will be visible in parts of nine states, according to the Great American Eclipse website, which lists when it will be visible and for how long.

  • It will be visible in parts of Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

What time is the solar eclipse Saturday?

Details: The annular eclipse is set to begin in Oregon at 9:13am PT and end in Texas at 12:03pm CT.

  • The "ring of fire" won't last long with durations ranging from less than 90 seconds to around five minutes.
  • For areas in the path of annularity, there will be a partial eclipse lasting about an hour and 15 minutes before and after the ring of fire is visible, per GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

The partial eclipse will be visible for most of the country at different times and depending on weather conditions.

  • NASA has an interactive eclipse map to check when the eclipse will be visible and a countdown to the maximum eclipse time.

Watch eclipse live

NASA is broadcasting a live stream Saturday on its website and YouTube channel from 11:30am to 1:15pm ET.

  • The live broadcast of the annular eclipse will include views from across the eclipse path and comments from NASA experts.
  • NASA says it will also have telescope feeds across the annular eclipse path.

Total solar eclipse coming in April 2024

What's next: Saturday's solar eclipse is practice for the next celestial event — a total eclipse that will occur on April 8, 2024.

  • With this eclipse, when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, it will completely block the face of the Sun, according to NASA.
  • It will travel through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Of note: Parts of Texas including Austin are in the path for the ring of fire eclipse and total eclipse.

Here are Axios Local guides for viewing the eclipse in Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Twin Cities and San Diego.

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