This Sunday, May 20, there will be a partial solar eclipse visible from the Oakdale/Modesto/Sonora area.
Oakdale High School science teacher Cameron Nickerson reported that if one is willing to travel as far as Chico, an annular eclipse will be visible, and if in Redding, the maximum of about four-and-a-half minutes of an annular eclipse will be visible.
“An annular eclipse is just a shade different from a total eclipse,” Nickerson said. “The distance to the moon will be great…and so the moon will be just a tiny bit smaller than the disc of the sun, leaving a ring of photosphere visible around the lunar shadow.”
He reported that the correct local time should be 5:17p.m. for the beginning of the partial eclipse, maximum eclipse at 6:33p.m., and ending at 7:40p.m., just before sunset. The sun should get to about 85 percent blocked from our location.
“This is a rare event,” Nickerson said. “The next eclipse visible from North America will be a total solar visible from Oregon and then across the U.S. in August of 2017, and it will be 2023 before another clips California. The next eclipse visible from Oakdale will not be until 2045.
More information is available from the website http://eclipse-maps.com/Eclipse-Maps/Gallery/Pages/Annular_solar_eclipse_of_2012_May_20.html. The website also includes information on safe viewing of an eclipse. It states, “This spectacular sight can only be safely observed with approved solar filters or by projecting an image of the eclipsed Sun onto a flat white surface…” There is also link to instructions for safe observation.
Another quick guide for how to safely view an eclipse can be found at www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how.html.