Mark your calendars, Northern California sky gazers, because an awe-inspiring celestial event is on the horizon. On October 14, a slice of Northern California will find itself in the path of an annular solar eclipse, offering a glimpse of the mesmerizing “ring of fire” as the Moon partially obscures the Sun.
This rare event is part of a celestial spectacle spanning nine states, from Oregon to Texas. In Northern California, the maximum eclipse will be visible in Siskiyou and Modoc counties in the upper northern corner of the state. Here’s the map of where you can see the eclipse in totality:
So what exactly is an annular eclipse? Unlike a total solar eclipse where the Moon completely veils the Sun, during an annular eclipse, the Moon only blocks about 90% of the Sun’s light. This occurs when the Moon is at its farthest point in its orbit around Earth. At the peak of the eclipse, known as annularity, a radiant “ring of fire” forms around the Moon as the Sun’s rays filter through.
Total and annular eclipses, though uncommon, do occur periodically. On average, our planet witnesses approximately one total and one annular solar eclipse annually. However, these celestial phenomena are statistically more prone to happen over the ocean, making the chance of experiencing totality or annularity a rare occurrence. In fact, for an average town on Earth, a total eclipse will only occur once every 375 years.
Northern California offers splendid locations to experience the “ring of fire.” Goose Lake, straddling the California-Oregon border, and sections within the breathtaking Modoc National Forest are situated within the 125-mile-wide path of the October eclipse. Communities such as Willow Ranch, Davis Creek, and Alturas will also fall along the path of annularity. For most of NorCal, the eclipse will be at 90 percent.
The eclipse will kick off in Oregon at 8:06 a.m. PDT and concludes with a partial solar eclipse in southeastern Texas just past 1:30 p.m. CDT. In California, the eclipse’s commencement and conclusion will vary by only a few minutes across the state. The partial eclipse will be visible shortly after 8 a.m.
For those in the small section of NorCal that will see the full eclipse, prepare for a spectacular show as the “ring of fire” graces the skies for nearly 2 minutes starting at 9:20 a.m. The final moments of the partial eclipse will conclude by 10:45 a.m., marking the end of this celestial wonder in Northern California.
For those eager to witness this celestial spectacle, remember that protective eclipse glasses are essential throughout the entire event. Even during the maximum eclipse, it is unsafe to remove them.