Valley residents can see partial eclipse today
Fresno-area residents will get a rare chance today to see a partial solar eclipse that will be visible across California — but to see a full sun block-out, Valley residents will need to head north of Sacramento.
Stargazers are counting down the minutes to today’s eclipse. “It is sort of a magical event, and there is nowhere else in the whole solar system where the moon blocks the sun,” said Steven White, director of the Downing Planetarium at Fresno State.
In Fresno, the moon will begin to obscure the sun at 5:20 p.m. today, reach its maximum coverage at 6:34 p.m. and exit the sun’s face at 7:40 p.m.
The Fresno region’s eclipse will cover nearly 89% of the sun.
White said the last partial eclipse in the region took place 10 years ago. “This happens about every six months on earth, but to have one come through California is rare,” he said.
The Discovery Center in Fresno, at 1944 N. Winery Ave., plans to hold a special solar eclipse viewing. Members are invited and encouraged to bring their telescopes.
Scientists give one word of caution, White said.
“Do not stare at the sun, even for an instant!” he said. “It can cause permanent damage to eyesight.”
White said the best way to view the eclipse is to either purchase special glasses, use welding glass or make a simple pinhole projector. NASA also recommends using binoculars to project the eclipse onto a white card.
The best view of the ring eclipse — which scientists call an “annular” eclipse, in which the moon completely blocks out the sun except for a ring of fire around the moon’s edge — is expected to be in Northern California near Eureka, Redding, the northern suburbs of Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.
White said he is going to do whatever he has to do to see the full eclipse: “My family and I are going to Reno to watch it from my mother’s backyard.”
The rest of California is set to get a prime view of a partial eclipse.
According to NASA, the annular eclipse will begin at sunrise local time in southern China, then pass over Hong Kong; Taipei, Taiwan; and Tokyo, before bypassing Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. After entering California, the moon’s shadow will block almost all sunlight from Reno, Nev., to the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Lubbock, Texas.
The zone where a partial eclipse is viewable is much wider, stretching over most of eastern China, Korea, the Philippines, Siberia, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.
NASA also has set up an interactive Google map showing times of the eclipse — click on the map at fblinks.com/sunblok, and it will show when the eclipse will begin and end at any given point in the world. The times are set to “Coordinated Universal Time,” which is seven hours ahead of California.