Active sun, streaming plasma, larger moon sets stage for 2024 Eclipse. How can Southern Utahns watch?

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ST. GEORGE — The Eclipse on April 8 is expected to go down as one of the longest this century and the last to be visible in North America until 2033, but a few cosmic coincidences are sure to make it spectacular.

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On April 8, a total solar eclipse will occur in the skies above North America as it crosses over the United States, and unlike the previous Ring of Fire solar eclipse in October, this event will be a partial solar eclipse when viewed from the Beehive State. Utah isn’t situated in the path of totality.

The path of the total solar eclipse will cross several states as it moves up from southern Texas and through northern Maine in just over an hour’s time, meaning celestial watchers in Southern Utah will need to travel to see this eclipse in its totality.

Every state will experience a partial solar eclipse to some degree, and in Utah, the total eclipse will be 50% and the view should not be hampered by clouds or rain, since the forecast calls for “mostly clear skies.”

What makes this eclipse different is that it will last longer. With the moon positioned close to Earth, the lunar night light will appear particularly large, making this an especially dark eclipse that will last for nearly four and a half minutes — two minutes longer than the Great American Eclipse of 2017, Science News says.

The Sun will also be especially bright, with streamers of plasma extending from the solar corona, which will serve as the dramatic backdrop as the two celestial bodies cross paths.

It will also be the last major eclipse to cross North America until the “Northern Lights Eclipse” in 2033, followed by the “49th Parallel Eclipse” in 2044. So, this year’s event will be a rare opportunity for skywatchers.

Starting at 11:15 a.m., MST, the partial eclipse begins from the moment the edge of the moon touches the edge of the Sun, which is called “first contact.”

At 12:08 p.m., viewers in certain locations will see the total solar eclipse — the deepest point of the eclipse in which the Sun is most hidden. In Utah, it will appear as a partial solar eclipse.

At 1:40 p.m. the partial eclipse ends as the edge of the Moon leaves the edge of the Sun, according to Timeanddate.

Protect your eyes

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Safety is key when viewing a solar eclipse. Other than during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse — when the moon completely blocks the sun’s face — it is never safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing, according to the American Astronomical Society.

This includes viewing any part of the sun through a camera lens, binoculars or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics. In these cases, the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and instantly cause severe injury to the eyes.

When watching a partial or annular solar eclipse, solar viewing glasses, commonly referred to as eclipse glasses, must be worn at all times. These glasses are not regular sunglasses but, instead, are thousands of times darker than even the darkest sunglasses. Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the sun.

Astrologically speaking, next month’s annular solar eclipse is part of “eclipse season,” reports Cosmic Rain.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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