Alpena is typically the perfect spot to see the solar system at night, but this Saturday, October 14, we may have an opportunity to witness a solar phenomenon mid-day. “The eclipse will start a little before noon, it’ll reach its maximum coverage a little after 1 PM, then it will recede for the next hour or so until two o’clock, and that’s when the eclipse will end,” said Jason Patterson, chemistry and astronomy teacher at Alpena High School.
If weather conditions are favorable, there will be some difference in brightness, but not total darkness. “It’ll be noticeably dimmer,” said Patterson. “If it happens to be a nice blue sunshine-y day, you might notice no clouds in the sky but it feels like an overcast day.”
Despite the decreased brightness, eclipse viewers need to take precautions to protect their eyes. “So what can happen is people look at the partially eclipsed sun and it’s not bright enough to hurt their eyes, so they stare at it. That’s very dangerous; you can go blind doing that,” said Patterson. “If you’re going to look at the eclipse for any period of time, you want to use eclipse glasses, or Shade 14 welding goggles or darker, that sort of thing. Definitely use eye protection”
If the weather conditions this weekend are unfavorable, another opportunity will be coming up soon. “In the spring though, on April 8th, we will have I think a 95% coverage partial eclipse here,” said Patterson, “If you were to travel a little farther south, to Indiana or Ohio, you could see a total solar eclipse which is a whole different creature, it’s glorious.”
Astrophotography featured in this story is courtesy of Jason Patterson and John Caplis.