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Safely viewing Saturday's annular solar eclipse in Southern Colorado

Posted at 6:58 PM, Oct 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-13 21:11:05-04

The air will feel chilly, and the trees and leaves will look dark Saturday morning. And not just because it's fall! A solar eclipse - will grace the Centennial state's skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses between the sun and the Earth, and can only occur when the moon is in its new phase. The moon casts a shadow on a small section of the Earth - this is the region that can see the eclipse. In this case, Colorado is in that path.

In an annular eclipse, the moon is too far away from Earth to completely block the sun, creating a ring of fire effect around the moon along the "Path of Annularity" - the path where the moon will appear to directly stand in front of the sun. The circles that this path trace out are called an "anumbra" - the same circles in a solar eclipse are called an umbra. Both refer to the circular shadow the moon casts on the Earth as it blocks out the sun.

In Southern Colorado, we'll be north of this path...which is only 125 miles wide - but not by much. The eclipse will be visible for us from 9:14AM - 12:07PM, but most visible from 10:30-10:40AM, peaking with 86-90% o the sun covered heading south from the Springs to Trinidad. Mesa Verde National Park will see the full show (as will the rest of the 4 corners region), with 3 minutes 13 seconds of annularity from 10:32 - 10:35AM. Otherwise, you can head down to Santa Fe or Albuquerque for the full show.

If you plan to watch the eclipse - viewing conditions are expected to be excellent - you'll need to put on your "cool shades" to be safe. Because the moon won't completely cover the sun, you'll need special glasses or a pin-hole projector to view it safely. Note: you should not use your phone camera or another digital camera to view it either - as this can damage the sensor. You need a special cover on the camera in order to view it properly.

This is the first of two solar eclipses visible in Southern Colorado in the next six months. A total solar eclipse will occur on April 8th, 2024. But if you don't plan to travel, this is the better show. In Southern Colorado, the April eclipse will only cover around 70% of the sun compared to the mid 80s to 90 percent covered in tomorrows event.

After April, we'll see a partial solar eclipse in Southern Colorado in January 2029 - the next annular eclipse whose path fully crosses Colorado will take another 10 2039. A total solar eclipse will cross directly over Colorado Springs and Pueblo in 2045.


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