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Western Slope Skies - 10/10/14

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October 23 Solar Eclipse

On October 8 we were treated to a total eclipse of the moon, and on October 23 North American sky-watchers can experience a partial solar eclipse. 

For southwest-central Colorado, the eclipse will begin at 3:17 p.m., as the edge of the moon starts moving eastward across the sun’s face.  The amount of sunlight will steadily decrease until 4:34 p.m., when 53% of the sun’s width will be covered.  Then, the Moon will gradually uncover the Sun, leaving it completely behind by 5:44 p.m.  While this eclipse will be only partial for all observers on Earth, 81% of the Sun will be covered by the Moon in the Canadian Arctic.          

A partial eclipse is a beguiling sight, but a total solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles.  Only during a total eclipse can we see the sun’s beautiful outer atmosphere, the pearly white corona with its long and stunning streamers.  Total eclipses of the sun will be visible in 2015 and 2016 from distant parts of the world.  But then, on August 21, 2017 comes a great opportunity for Americans.  A total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, and several mid-western and south-eastern States.            


Think of this month’s partial eclipse as a dress rehearsal for the total solar eclipse of 2017.  You can view this partial eclipse safely through solar-filtered telescopes with members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society and Park Rangers. On October 23, we’ll be viewing from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, South Rim Visitor Center from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. But please, never look at the sun directly at any time without safe solar filters – severe eye damage can result.  

“Western Slope Skies” is produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.  This episode was written & voiced by Art Trevena.