by Stuart Jenner
On Saturday morning, October 14, a partial eclipse will be visible in the Seattle area. About 80% of the sun will be covered by the moon in what’s referred to as an “annular” or “ring of fire” eclipse.
What you need to know:
Get glasses EARLY if you want to look at the ring of fire. If you look with regular glasses, you risk serious eye damage. Get pairs for everyone in your family who might want to take a look. The Seattle Astronomy Society recommends this article as a guide for buying solar eclipse glasses. The article is from 2017, but the same situation is likely to occur again.
They also recommend a store in Ballard called Cloud Break Optics, which is open Mon – Fri 10 to 4:30 pm. The specific link to the recommended glasses is here.
In this eclipse, the moon gradually covers the sun’s rays. (I remember in the 2017 eclipse how quickly the temperature dropped.) The start will be around 8:05 a.m., the darkest time at 9:15, and then the total return of the sun at around 11:40 a.m. A very informative website called “Great American Eclipse” has this page on the October eclipse. It also has info on an eclipse in April that will not be visible in the western US.
A map on the October eclipse page from Great American Eclipse shows coverage areas. The Highline area is right by an 80% line. Meaning 80% of the sun will be blocked by the moon at the peak of the eclipse. The 85% line is roughly at Vancouver, WA.
The areas that will be most dark start on the Oregon coast between Lincoln City and Bandon. An article on Space.com reports that the eclipse at 9:15 a.m. at Oregon Dunes is forecasted to last 4 minutes and 29 seconds. Further away, the darkness time is shorter. As shown on this helpful page from the Great American Eclipse, the eclipse path moves southeast. Fully covered: Corvallis to Grants Pass, Three Rivers to Klamath Falls (including Crater Lake at 9:17 a.m.), and then parts of Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico will be fully covered. (I wish I could be in Roswell. UFOs, anyone?)
The Seattle Astronomy Society says this is an early morning eclipse, which means the sun will be low in the eastern sky. The best views will be from a location that faces east and does not have many obstructions. Examples near Burien: areas along Military Road that overlook the Kent Valley, and generally any place with a good view of the Cascade mountains. I would guess there will be a good view from Seatac’s elevated light rail station platforms.
We can hope we have a clear sky. But if we don’t, there could well be major traffic jams driving south and east. Yakima, Richland and Walla Walla appear lined up to get the same amount of darkness as the Burien area.
There may be some announcements of viewing party locations, but one place that definitely won’t have any official viewing is any location of the King County library. A spokesperson said since the eclipse is occurring before library opening hours, they are not planning any events.
To close: STAY SAFE! If you want to view the eclipse, get good glasses asap!