WeatherWeather Science


How much of the sun will be covered in Monday's eclipse in southern Colorado?

Total eclipse location at peak eclipse in southern Colorado
Posted at 4:57 PM, Apr 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-07 18:59:38-04

Monday's solar eclipse in southern Colorado is going to be exciting if we can see it. But it sure seems to have a lot of numbers associated with it! What exactly should you expect to see, and what do all the numbers mean? Let's break it down.

Today's eclipse is a total eclipse for much of the country. 13 states will see totality - the Moon will block the Sun completely, appearing to those below to be larger than the Sun. It's the last U.S. total solar eclipse for 20 years. We'll have another in 2044. And then...another one in 2045. The 2045 eclipse will see the path of totality move directly over Colorado Springs.

Monday's eclipse is a partial eclipse for southern Colorado with the path of totality remaining hundreds of miles to the south of the state.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks some or, in a total eclipse, all of the Sun's light over a portion of the Earth.

There are multiple ways to measure how much of the sun is covered during an eclipse. One is called magnitude, the other is called surface obscuration. In Colorado Springs, this eclipse will have a magnitude of 74%, and an obscuration of 67%. This sounds complicated...but it's not. You may have heard both numbers at various points in the last few weeks!

First: Magnitude. It's an astronomy term. The Sun and Moon are spheres. We can draw a line from one side to the other side. See this image:

These two lines are the diameters of the sun and the moon. At peak eclipse, the moon will appear to cover 74% of the sun's diameter.

An eclipse's magnitude is simply the amount of the Moon's diameter that is covering the Sun's diameter. The weird thing: this number can be more than 100%! During a total eclipse, the moon appears bigger than the sun.

But that's not the number that really matters to you or me - astronomers care about that measurement. We care about surface obscuration. That means "how much of the Sun's area is covered". If you cover 50% of one piece of paper with another, you've obscured 50% of that bottom paper - regardless of how you did a diagonal, straight up and down, you cut up the paper into circles and put them over the other get the idea.

So - using that second measurement, let's look at the maximum area covered by the eclipse in your city:

This is the percent of the Sun that will be covered by the Moon at peak eclipse (this scale goes from 0-100%)

In Trinidad, the peak is at 12:37 PM with 72.8% of the Sun covered. The farther south you go in the state, the more the Moon covers the Sun at the peak eclipse on Monday, and the earlier that peak arrives.

As for whether we can see it - that's still up in the air. Clouds are expected Monday for us during the eclipse. We're tracking the clouds in our weather forecasts. Stay tuned.


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