Late-day eclipse to be a challenging view

Image: Oct 23 eclipse begins.
Simulation: Just after the eclipse begins, about 7 degrees above horizon.

UPDATE: There will be two public viewing events taking place along Cleveland’s lakeshore beginning by 5:30 PM: Voinovich Park on the lake at East 9th Street, and Gordon Park on the lake at East 72nd Street and the Shoreway. Both events will provide telescopic views of the eclipse, and both are free of charge. There is, however, a parking fee for those driving to Voinovich Park. — 10/21/2014

The evening of Thursday, October 23, a partial solar eclipse will be visible from Northeastern Ohio, fleetingly, however. The weather forecast looked promising at this writing but the Sun/Moon position will be a big issue.

The eclipse will begin locally at 5:42 PM EDT as Moon begins its passage between Sun and Earth, blocking a portion of the light. Sun’s image (viewed through solar-safe filters or in webcasts via the Internet) will show a steadily-increasing “bite” missing from its bright disk. Because this will be a partial, rather than total eclipse, no-one will see Sun fully-covered by Moon. All the while, the Sun-Moon combo will be sinking towards Sun-Moonset. Viewing will be difficult requiring the most distant horizons available to local observers.

The event will begin with first contact (on Sun’s right-hand limb) and the eclipse just a bit more than 8 degrees above a clear horizon! That’s really low! The eclipse will reach its maximum coverage (50+ percent, for us) during local sunset, which is around 6:30 PM. The low elevations put the eclipse into a region of the low sky filled with obstructions such as trees, buildings, hills, etc. and the thickest, murkiest portion of the atmosphere.

Image: Oct. 23 eclipse at sunset.
The Oct. 23 partial solar eclipse will reach maximum during sunset.

Still, we don’t see that many solar eclipse opportunities for viewing locally. Sunset could be a dramatic event during this eclipse. If you have the chance to safely watch, please do!

WARNING: Viewing the Sun is potentially dangerous to your vision! You MUST use proper filters to prevent permanent eye damage when looking at the Sun, eclipsed or not! Sunglasses are not safe for eclipse viewing, nor are exposed film, compact discs, polarizing filters, or other such gadgets. Read this article.