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Eyes on the skies, weather clears for eclipse

Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 9:09 am



Much of middle Tennessee caught a break from the clouds Saturday, allowing an unobstructed view of the annular eclipse which brought thousands outside to view the rare phenomenon.

Middle Tennessee saw 60 percent of the Sun obscured at the peak of the celestial event at 12:05 p.m. Saturday. First contact began at 10:38 a.m. as the right side of the Sun revealed the spherical intrusion of the Moon, moving right to left from the viewer’s prospective. The overall event ended at 1:36 p.m. as the Moon made its way through the bottom left of the Sun. Total time in middle Tennessee was two hours, 58 minutes.

The “Ring of Fire” eclipse as it was called cast its main shadow southeast from just south of Portland, Ore., just north of Las Vegas, Nev., cutting through Santa Fe and Albuquerque, N.M. and just south of San Antonio, Texas. While providing nearly a full solar eclipse, many in the southwest were hindered in viewing the celestial wonder by cloud cover. The event was not a full eclipse since the Moon is far away from the Earth presently and therefore was not able to completely block out the Sun but instead, even at best viewing, appeared as a ring of fire around the obstructing Moon.

The next annular eclipse will happen on Oct. 2, 2024, and will be visible from the Southeast Pacific and Southern America. In 2024, U.S. residents will be treated to a total solar eclipse on April 8. The narrow strip of totality for that eclipse will fall just outside Tennessee, crossing parts of Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Major cities that will get totality include Mazatlan, Torreon, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Montreal. For vacation planners, Niagara Falls will be under totality. Nashville will get 95% of the Sun obscured during the eclipse and southern Middle Tennessee is expected to get a 94% eclipse. While still an impressive number, it is not safely viewable by the naked eye and will require special viewing glasses.