Looking Up: There's A Big Black Spot On The Sun Today...

Aug 21, 2017

This image of the solar corona is a color overlay of the emission from highly ionized iron lines, with white light images added below. Different colors provide unique information about the temperature and composition of solar material in the corona.
Credit S. Habbal/M. Druckmüller / nasa.gov

And it's definitely not 'the same old thing as yesterday'. Today is the day that many folks throughout the Continental U.S. will have an opportunity to witness a once in a lifetime total solar eclipse!

This is an exciting morning, astronomically speaking, in Colorado Springs! If you are listening to the first airing of Looking Up, at 9 am, pay close attention to what will be happening very soon. If you are listening to a rerun, hope you enjoyed the eclipse!

Once again, a reminder that it is NEVER safe to look at the Sun during this partial eclipse without the right kind of protective eyewear. But if you planned ahead and have your solar goggles ready, here is what starts happening soon!

At about 10:23 am, you will start to see the curved, black edge of the Moon start to creep across the face of the Sun. It will start in the 1 o’clock position and will slowly work its way across the Sun’s disk. About an hour and twenty minutes later, at 11:47 am, this partial eclipse will cover about 92% of the Sun. But remember, even then, it’s too bright to look directly at. But do look if you have the right goggles, and revel in the amazing view. Take a look at shadows, especially leaves in trees, on the ground around you. They will look very strange, because the Sun’s light is only coming from a tiny crescent of the disk. Still very bright, but very strange. Have a camera ready to take pictures, because some folks may not believe you.

After maximum, the Moon slowly spirals away, with the last bit of the Moon disappearing from the Sun’s 9 o’clock position at about 1:15 pm.

So get outside and enjoy this solar splendor! It won’t happen again here for years and years!

A white light image of the solar corona during totality.
Credit M. Druckmüller / nasa.gov

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Sun or any of the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.