Watching the Skies: West Michigan can glimpse partial eclipse

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An eclipse of the sun will take place this week. It will not be a total solar eclipse like the Great American Eclipse of 2017, but instead an annular eclipse. 

In a total solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun from the vantage point of those in the path of totality. An annular solar eclipse is a bit different. 

During an annular eclipse, the moon is too far away and appears too small to completely cover the sun. At annularity, the moon will cover all the sun except for the bright outer rim. Because of this, annular eclipses are sometimes called “ring of fire” eclipses

The annular eclipse will take place early in the morning Thursday. Unfortunately, West Michigan will not be in the path of annularity and will only see a subtle partial eclipse. 

According to Dave DeBruyn, curator emeritus at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the eclipse will be nearly over by the time the sun rises over the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. We will only see a slight partial eclipse here. As the sun comes up, just a small part of it will be obscured by the moon.

The northeast United States and parts of southern Canada will have a far better view. The Upper Peninsula is not in the path of the annular eclipse, but it will have a neat view of the partial eclipse.

For those in the right spot in the U.P., “the sun will be almost completely obscured by the moon, producing an eerie and diminished twilight glow followed by the rising of an exceedingly thin but brilliant crescent sun,” according to DeBruyn. 

If you want to check out the subtle eclipse of the sun in West Michigan, remember to never look at the sun without proper eye protection. You’ll need special solar glasses. Sunglasses alone do not offer enough protection. 

If you can’t watch the annular eclipse in person, a livestream will be available on timeanddate.com.

The next total solar eclipse a large portion of the United States will be able to see will take place on April 8, 2024. 

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