A solar eclipse will soon grace the skies over the Americas. On Saturday, October 14, 2023, the Moon will cross in front of the Sun, covering at most 90% of it — the remaining 10% will appear as a blazing “ring of fire” around the Moon’s black silhouette.
Note to Editors/Producers: This release is accompanied by high-quality graphics; see the end of this release for the images and links to download.
A solar eclipse will soon grace the skies over the Americas. On Saturday, October 14, 2023, the Moon will cross in front of the Sun, spending up to 5 minutes 17 seconds centered on the brilliant solar disk, but it will cover at most 90% of it. The remaining 10% will appear as a blazing “ring of fire” around the Moon’s black silhouette. This annular (Latin for ring-shaped) solar eclipse will be visible within a roughly 125-mile-wide path from Oregon to Texas and on into Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Most North Americans outside the path (except in western Alaska) will experience a partial solar eclipse.
Where and How to See It
From beginning to end, a solar eclipse lasts up to about 3 hours. For most of that time, the Moon slowly covers the Sun, then uncovers it; these are the eclipse’s beginning and ending partial phases. The real excitement comes in the middle, but only for a few fleeting minutes.
In the U.S., weather prospects for the annular eclipse look most promising in parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Texas, where the “ring of fire” lasts about 5 minutes. “If you’re one of the lucky ones along the ‘path of annularity’ in those areas, make sure you clear your diary of appointments for the eclipse,” says Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. “You wouldn’t want to miss this event.” Even if you’re not in the path of annularity, do pause during the day to take a peek at the event (paying attention to eye safety, as noted below) — the sight of the lunar disk even partially covering the Sun reminds us that we live in a solar system that’s always in motion.
The following table gives the times for the phases of the eclipse in select U.S. cities within the path of annularity.
|Location||Partial phase begins||Annular phase begins||Partial phase ends||Duration of annularity|
|Eugene, Oregon||8:05 a.m.||9:17 a.m.||10:40 a.m.||3m 48s|
|Elko, Nevada||8:07 a.m.||9:22 a.m.||10:50 a.m.||4m 18s|
|Bryce, Utah||9:09 a.m.||10:28 a.m.||11:58 a.m.||2m 53s|
|Albuquerque, New Mexico||9:13 a.m.||10:34 a.m.||12:09 p.m.||4m 50s|
|Roswell, New Mexico||9:16 a.m.||10:39 a.m.||12:15 p.m.||4m 41s|
|Midland, Texas||10:18 a.m.||11:43 a.m.||1:22 p.m.||4m 55s|
|San Antonio, Texas||10:24 a.m.||11:52 a.m.||1:33 p.m.||4m 24s|
|Corpus Christi, Texas||10:26 a.m.||11:56 a.m.||1:38 p.m.||5m 02s|
The following table gives the times for the phases of the partial eclipse (outside the path of annularity) for select cities in the U.S. and Canada.
|Location||Partial phase begins||Maximum eclipse||Partial phase ends||Eclipse obscuration|
|Salem, Oregon||8:06 a.m.||9:19 a.m.||10:40 a.m.||88%|
|Seattle, Washington||8:08 a.m.||9:20 a.m.||10:40 a.m.||80%|
|Los Angeles, California||8:08 a.m.||9:25 a.m.||10:50 a.m.||71%|
|Las Vegas, Nevada||8:08 a.m.||9:27 a.m.||10:54 a.m.||82%|
|Vancouver, British Columbia||8:09 a.m.||9:20 a.m.||10:38 a.m.||76%|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||9:09 a.m.||10:28 a.m.||11:55 a.m.||87%|
|Calgary, Alberta||9:14 a.m.||10:27 a.m.||11:45 a.m.||61%|
|Denver, Colorado||9:14 a.m.||10:36 a.m.||12:06 p.m.||79%|
|Austin, Texas||10:24 a.m.||11:54 a.m.||1:33 p.m.||89%|
|Kansas City, Missouri||10:25 a.m.||11:50 a.m.||1:21 p.m.||61%|
|Winnipeg, Manitoba||10:29 a.m.||11:42 a.m.||1:00 p.m.||42%|
|Chicago, Illinois||10:37 a.m.||11:58 a.m.||1:23 p.m.||43%|
|Atlanta, Georgia||11:43 a.m.||1:12 p.m.||2:45 p.m.||52%|
|Toronto, Ontario||11:56 a.m.||1:10 p.m.||2:25 p.m.||27%|
|New York, New York||12:09 p.m.||1:22 p.m.||2:36 p.m.||23%|
|Montreal, Quebec||12:12 p.m.||1:18 p.m.||2:24 p.m.||17%|
|Boston, Massachusetts||12:18 p.m.||1:26 p.m.||2:34 p.m.||17%|
During partial and annular solar eclipses, the Sun remains dangerously bright. “There’s no time during the October 14th solar eclipse when you can look directly at the Sun without eye protection,” says veteran eclipse chaser Rick Fienberg. “You can view the eclipse through special-purpose ‘eclipse glasses’ or handheld solar viewers, or you can use an indirect method such as pinhole projection.” The American Astronomical Society’s webpage on eye safety has valuable advice on where to get safe solar filters — ones that meet the requirements of the ISO 12312-2 international standard — and on ways to view the eclipse indirectly with the Sun at your back.
We get solar eclipses because, by an amazing cosmic coincidence, the Sun and Moon appear almost exactly the same size in our sky. The Sun’s diameter is really about 400 times bigger than the Moon’s, but the Sun is also about 400 times farther away. Because Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the Moon’s orbit around Earth are both ellipses rather than circles, the apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon vary a little during the year (Sun) and during each month (Moon).
When the Moon is farther away than average, as will be the case on October 14, 2023, it will appear too small to fully cover the Sun’s face, so at mideclipse a brilliant annulus (ring) of sunlight encircles the lunar silhouette. However, on April 8, 2024, the opposite is true — the Moon is slightly closer than average and will easily cover the entire solar disk, turning daylight into deep twilight and unveiling the ethereal corona during a total solar eclipse like the one that crossed the contiguous U.S. in August 2017.
You might wonder why we don’t have a solar eclipse at every new Moon. This is because the Moon’s orbit around Earth is tipped by about 5° to Earth’s orbit around the Sun (which, from our perspective, is the Sun’s annual path through the zodiacal constellations). At new Moon, our natural satellite usually passes above or below the Sun. But twice each year, where the orbits intersect, the new Moon glides directly in front of the Sun, so we get solar eclipses. Whether a solar eclipse is partial, annular, or total depends on how precisely the Sun, Moon, and Earth align and on the distances of the Moon and Sun from Earth.
Eclipse Info in Your Pocket
The AAS and Big Kid Science have teamed up to produce the Totality app (version 3.0), which is free for iOS and Android smartphones. Features include interactive maps (for the October annular eclipse, the April 2024 total solar eclipse, and beyond) as well as useful information on eye safety and how and why eclipses occur. In addition, the app taps into your phone’s GPS not only to show what you can see at your current location, but also to advise you on the nearest location where you can witness annularity or totality — and give you driving directions. It’s also ad-free, for a seamless and enjoyable eclipse-exploring experience.
A thorough review of the October 2023 annular solar eclipse appears in the October 2023 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, now on newsstands. For more information about the October 2023 annular eclipse, see “Solar and Lunar Eclipses in 2023”, and keep an eye on Sky & Telescope’s website for further articles in the days leading up to the eclipse.
You can get local circumstances of upcoming solar (and lunar) eclipses for cities worldwide on TimeandDate.com’s Eclipses page.
The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is helping communities prepare for the eclipse, whether on or off the eclipse path. For resources and more information head to https://eclipse.aas.org and https://eclipse2024resources.com.
Sky & Telescope’s dedicated April 2024 eclipse webpage provides updated information in the lead-up to next year’s total solar eclipse across North America.
Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope
+1 617-500-6793 ×22100, [email protected]
Susanna Kohler, Communications Manager and Press Officer, American Astronomical Society
+1 202-328-2010 ×127, [email protected]
Sky & Telescope is making the illustrations below available to editors and producers. Permission is granted for nonexclusive use in print and broadcast media, as long as appropriate credits (as noted) are included. Web publication must include a link to skyandtelescope.org.
For skywatching information and astronomy news, visit SkyandTelescope.org or pick up Sky & Telescope magazine, the essential guide to astronomy since 1941. Sky & Telescope and SkyandTelescope.org are published by the American Astronomical Society, along with books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, apps, and other products for astronomy enthusiasts.
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is a major international organization of professional astronomers, astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers. Its membership of approximately 8,000 also includes physicists, geologists, engineers, and others whose interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community, which it achieves through publishing, meetings, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.