Solar Eclipse Coming to West Coast, Oregon
(Portland, Oregon) – The moon will move in front of the Sun on Sunday, May 20, bringing a partial eclipse to the Pacific Northwest, and hopefully the Oregon coast if conditions allow (above: sunset at Cape Lookout State Park)..
According to OMSI planetarium manager Jim Todd, the stellar event will make for a partial eclipse in this region, but around the border between Oregon and California it will be an “annular” eclipse – meaning a ring around the dark disc of the moon.
“This unique phenomenon occurs when the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun, but at a farther distance from the Earth than with a total solar eclipse,” Todd said. “As a result, the Moon appears too small to completely cover the Sun, and we observe the Sun as a ring (or 'annulus') surrounding the Moon.”
Those along the center line in southwestern Oregon – including the south coast – will see the moon block 87 percent of the Sun's diameter at 6:24 p.m. It will last four minutes 47 seconds.
“A much broader region – from as far north as the Arctic Circle to the southern Pacific Ocean - will experience a partial solar eclipse,” Todd said. “The path of annularity will be visible from China to the southwestern United States.”
OMSI and the Rose City Astronomers Club will host a special viewing party that day, starting at 4:30 in the east parking lot of OMSI in Portland. It will feature live, dramatic interludes by Portland Taiko, a premiere local Japanese drumming ensemble, and end at 7:00 p.m. Filtered solar telescopes and special viewing glasses will be available for safely viewing the Sun.
Lunar eclipse seen from Manzanita
In Portland and around north Oregon coast towns such as Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita, it begins at 5:04 p.m. when the Moon makes first contact with the Sun.
“The maximum eclipse accords at 6:21 p.m. when the Moon covers 81 percent of the Sun's diameter at 25 degrees above the western horizon,” Todd said. “The partial eclipse will end at 7:29 p.m. as the Moon exits.”
This means the farther south you go in Oregon and the coast the more of the Sun will be covered. With towns like Eugene, Bend and Florence being about the halfway mark down the length of the state, from there southward you will see an increasingly larger eclipse. But it's possible towns even as far north as Yachats, Newport or Depoe Bay could see more than up around Pacific City.
Todd urges extreme caution when viewing the eclipse: do not view any of it without eye protection. Even when at its most covered, the sun will shine brightly enough to harm to your eyes.
“Use only an approved solar filter which blocks dangerous ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well as visible light,” Todd said. “The special solar viewing glasses are available at the OMSI Science Store for $1.99.”
Extra caution should be used while viewing along the Oregon coast, as clearer conditions there can cause more severe sunburns much faster. Even if it is partially cloudy, use extreme caution.
Todd said this is the first such eclipse seen in the United State since May, 1994. The last partial eclipse here was in 2002.
The annual eclipse for the U.S. won't happen until October 14, 2023. However, a total eclipse is coming to Oregon on August 21, 2017.
For more information or to check for possible weather-related cancellations, call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, 503.797.4610 #3 then #5, or check the OMSI Star Parties web site: http://www.omsi.edu/starparties
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Keywords: astronomy, eclipse, Portland, cape kiwanda, Florence, Brookings. California, OMSI, Pacific City, Cannon Beach, Yachats, Depoe Bay, Newport, Lincoln City, Oceanside, Astoria, Oregon coast, science.
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