SOUTHERN UTAH — Following the blood moon that occurred Oct. 8, the sun will take on its own seeming metamorphosis Thursday afternoon as the moon moves in front of the sun causing it to take on a crescent shape and treating viewers — weather permitting — with a partial solar eclipse.
The eclipse is visible from all of North America, including Mexico, except eastern Canada, although the circumstances are different for each location. From the eastern states the sun sets while eclipsed. For details for other locations in North America click here. For this celestial event, the St. George Astronomy Group is setting up telescopes in numerous locations for safe viewing.
An eclipse of the sun happens when the moon moves in front of the sun and partially or completely blocks the sun from earthlings’ view. As a partial eclipse, the moon will appear to take a bite out of the sun. From nowhere on Earth will this eclipse be a total solar eclipse – a much rarer event. While the sun will grow slightly darker during this partial eclipse, the sky will not dim like that of a total eclipse in which case the sun would be totally covered by the moon, day dims to twilight and planets and bright stars appear.
Timing for Southern Utah
The sun will hang one-third of the way up the southwestern sky as the moon begins to move in front of it at 3:09 p.m. in Southern Utah initiating the beginning of the partial eclipse. The moon will continue moving across the sun for 80 minutes until maximum eclipse occurs at 4:29 p.m., at which point the moon sits closest to the center of the sun and covers four-tenths of the sun. The moon then will begin to move off the face of the sun, covering less of it minute-by-minute until 5:41 p.m. when the eclipse ends. At the end, the sun will be a very low 11 degrees to the west of Southern Utah.
Sun Filters for safe viewing
Warning! Never look at the sun. It is especially tempting to look at the sun during an eclipse, but damage to your eyes is permanent. Even at full eclipse, the sun is far too bright to look at without proper eye protection. Experts suggest No. 14 welder’s filters or specially made Mylar and glass solar filters which can be purchased commercially. Do not make your own filters because you cannot be certain of filtering out harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays which can quickly damage your eyes. Use only filters you know to be safe. For a more elaborate description of dangers and precautions, read NASA’s tips for safe viewing of solar eclipses.
One way to observe the eclipse from your own home is to project the sun’s image with a pair of binoculars or a very small toy telescope. Point your binoculars or small telescope toward the sun and project the sun’s image onto a piece of white cardboard held a few inches to a foot away. Caution: the heat from the sun can easily damage binoculars and telescope eyepieces, so do not try this with an expensive instrument or for more than a few seconds at a time. And of course never inadvertently look through an unfiltered telescope or binoculars at the sun, even for a few seconds – permanent eye damage will result.
St. George Astronomy Group viewing locations
The St. George Astronomy Group – a local astronomy advocacy organization – will set up specially-filtered solar telescopes for free and safe public viewing of the sun from 3-5:45 p.m. at these locations:
- Unity Park, 400 South between 200 and 400 West, Ivins
- Lin’s parking lot, 1120 W. State Street, Hurricane
- Dixie State University on the field just south of the Holland Building on campus at 225 South and 700 East, St. George
Inexpensive solar filters are available at:
- Southwest Vision | Address: 965 E 700 S #100, St. George | Telephone: 435-673-5577
Future celestial events
The next solar eclipse visible from St. George occurs on Aug. 21, 2017. That eclipse will be seen as total from a narrow band that crosses the northern states but partial as seen from Utah. The next lunar eclipses visible from Southern Utah are both total, and they happen on April 4, 2015 and Sept. 27, 2015.
- Creeping into the shadow, ‘Blood moon’ total lunar eclipse
- Supermoon rises at sunset; earth, moon get intimate
- ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse in St. George May 20 -2012
- Solar viewing glasses; dates with the sun eclipse your vision
- Full moon rising, tonight beams first of 3 summer supermoons
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