Clouds, rain may dampen eclipse viewing locally

Daily Press file photo Children view a partial solar eclipse in Escanaba in 2017 using special glasses to view the event. Another partial solar eclipse will be visible in Delta County Monday. Cloudy skies and rain, however, may dampen eclipse viewing plans locally.

ESCANABA — Mother Nature may have a soggy surprise for Delta County residents hoping to view Monday’s solar eclipse. The weather forecast is calling for less than ideal viewing conditions. The forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of showers with mostly cloudy skies throughout the day locally. A high of 47 degrees is predicted.

Delta County is not alone. Cloudy skies are predicted Monday for much of the path the solar eclipse will take in the United States.

Although the event is a total solar eclipse, residents of Delta County will see a partial eclipse of the sun, with 82% of its disc covered by the moon at maximum. This is because Delta County is to the west of the area that will witness a total solar eclipse

According to the Delta County Astronomical Society, in order to view or photograph any phase of the eclipse as seen here you will need will safe solar filters or a way to view the image of the sun indirectly. In March, the society offered classes locally to show residents how to make a safe pinhole viewer or solar filters to view the eclipse safely.

The eclipse will begin in Escanaba at 1:57 p.m. Eastern time, when the moon’s edge makes first contact with the disc of the sun as seen from our location. As the eclipse begins, the sun will be 510 above the horizon.

Maximum eclipse will occur at 3:11 p.m. when 82% of the sun will be covered by the moon. At 4:22 p.m. the eclipse will end as the trailing edge of the moon slips away from the eastern edge of the sun.

Throughout the eclipse it will remain daylight here, though the sky may darken noticeably at maximum eclipse, around 3 p.m., as if it was evening. Please remember, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without solar filters or special viewing devices at any time during this partial eclipse, as seen in our area.   

Monday’s total solar eclipse will make landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast and cross into Texas and 14 other U.S. states, before exiting over Canada.

It will last almost twice as long, with an even wider audience, than the total solar eclipse that stretched coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 2017.

The moon will shroud the sun for up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds, a spectacle normally unfolding in remote corners of the globe but this time passing over major cities like Dallas, Indianapolis and Cleveland. An estimated 44 million people live within the path of totality, with another couple hundred million within 200 miles (320 kilometers), guaranteeing the continent’s biggest eclipse crowd ever.

Practically everyone on the continent will get to see a partial eclipse. You can watch the whole thing unfold online, too. NASA is offering several hours of streaming online from several cities along the totality path. The Associated Press will bring live coverage of watch parties and festivities.

And don’t forget your special glasses to safely watch the eclipse.

It all depends on the weather, of course. The National Weather Service is providing daily updates of its cloud cover forecasts along the path.

Here’s more to know about Monday’s celestial showstopper:

What’s a total solar eclipse?

The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun at midday, blotting out the sunlight.

The full eclipse will last longer than usual because the moon will be just 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) from Earth, one of the year’s closest approaches. The closer the moon is to Earth, the bigger it is in the sky from our perspective, resulting in an especially long and intense period of sun-blocked darkness. Totality will last the longest over Mexico at 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Elsewhere along the track, like in Syracuse, New York, totality will last just 1 1/2 minutes.

What’s the eclipse path?

The moon’s shadow will slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness. Totality will enter the continent at Mazatlan, Mexico, and exit at Newfoundland in Canada. In between, 15 U.S. states from Texas to Maine will experience totality, including snippets of Tennessee and Michigan. It will be a repeat for Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois, which were also in prime position for 2017’s total solar eclipse.

A comet during the eclipse?

During totality, you may be able to spot a comet along with four planets, if you’re lucky. Jupiter will be to the left of the sun and Venus to the right. Saturn and Mars will be to the right of Venus, but fainter. The solar system’s three other planets will be in the vicinity, but virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is swinging past Earth, as it does every 71 years. Still faint, it will be positioned near Jupiter during the eclipse. But it will take a sudden outburst of dust and gas to see this so-called devil comet without a telescope, according to Anita Cochran of the University of Texas at Austin. But don’t waste time looking for it. “There is lots to see and not that long a time,” she said via email.

Last total solar eclipse in the U.S.?

The U.S. hasn’t experienced a total solar eclipse since Aug. 21, 2017, although a “ring of fire” solar eclipse crossed a part of the country last October. The moon was too far away then to completely blot out the sun, leaving a brilliant, burning ring around our star. The dramatic “ring of fire” stretched from Oregon to Texas, and crossed over Central America and Colombia, before exiting over Brazil. Kerrville, Texas, just west of San Antonio, is back in the bull’s-eye and expecting another packed house.

When’s the next one?

After Monday, the next total solar eclipse won’t occur until 2026. But it will graze the top of the world, dipping into Greenland, Iceland and Spain. The next one in 2027 will march across Spain and northern Africa, with totality lasting an incredible 6 1/2 minutes. North Americans will have to wait until 2033 for another total solar eclipse, but it will be limited to Alaska. In 2044, Western Canada, Montana and North Dakota will have front-row seats. And in 2045, the U.S. will once again experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report


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