Get ready for the ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse this Saturday

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Millions of people across America are gearing up for an experience like no other on Saturday. During an annular solar eclipse the moon will block the sun, casting a shadow from Oregon to Brazil.

This weekend’s astronomical wonder is poised to spread across the western United States, across the Yucatan Peninsula, across much of Central America, before sunset off the South American coast. Like the solar eclipse that swept across 14 US states in 2017, people from all walks of life will gather for a quick reminder that we all share one home in the vast and infinite universe.

Frank Marchis, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., remembers watching in awe at an ancient temple in Tokyo during his first eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the earth. Because the Moon’s orbit is slightly oval rather than a perfect circle, this alignment sometimes occurs at its furthest from Earth. The result is the annual solar eclipse, or “ring of fire” that viewers will enjoy this weekend.

In the United States, the annular eclipse will be in the sky above Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (as well as small parts of California and Colorado). It will travel in a 125-mile-wide loop between noon and 1 p.m. ET. People outside this landmass will experience a partial eclipse, including major cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston.

Wherever you look, scientists urge you not to view the annular eclipse without proper protective equipment to avoid damage to your eyes.

With National Weather Service forecast models running early Friday, clear skies are expected between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, providing viewing opportunities for parts of the eclipse’s path through eastern Nevada, northeastern Arizona, western Utah and northwestern New Mexico. . The same is true for most of Central Texas.

But for many other parts of the United States, conditions may prevent views of the partial eclipse, with most of the country remaining cloudy throughout Saturday afternoon.

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Outside the ring’s path, southern California and Arizona, eastern Texas, southern parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and northern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama will have good views of the partially eclipsed sun.

Events of all sizes are planned on the annual route. Dr. Marchis plans He set up the telescopes at an event in Oregon With a live band and breakfast hosted by the Community of Artists and Scientists.

Exploratorium in San Francisco Live streaming of the eclipse From and sharing the Valley of the Gods in southern Utah Navajo Knowledge of Celestial Phenomena. Marysvale, Utah, is a town along the way with a population of a few hundred A three-day feast Scheduled for the expected arrival of visitors.

Utah Department of Transportation More than 300,000 visitors are expected To the central part of the state, with heavy traffic. Some parts of the state will see a loop of more than four minutes and 30 seconds.

And in Roswell, NM — the UFO capital of the world — a four-minute, 41-second annular eclipse will kick off the day. Science and Arts Festival.

The eclipse will cross Texas from its western to southeastern border. San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city, and the surrounding area are in the path of two eclipses: Saturday’s annual event and next April’s total eclipse starting in Mexico and ending in Canada as it crosses the southern and eastern United States. Excitement has been building for months among scientists and locals alike.

“It’s unusual to have a place at the crossroads of an eclipse — for two solar eclipses, how lucky,” said Kate Russo, who calls herself an eclipse chaser. Dr. Russo is heading to San Antonio to see his third annular eclipse, adding to the 13 total eclipses he’s seen in 11 countries.

Although annular eclipses have hit the San Antonio area about six times in the past 500 years, its last total eclipse occurred in 1397, according to Angela Speck, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The next one in San Antonio is scheduled for 2200.

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“It’s been a long time coming,” said Dr. Speck, who proudly sports a tattoo of the eclipse on his left arm.

Many locations in central and south Texas, from Corpus Christi to the Hill Country near Uvalde to San Antonio, are gearing up for the annual sighting of more than four minutes.

Dr. Russo, who is part of the National Solar Eclipse Task Force, arrived in San Antonio two weeks ago to prepare the area for the annular eclipse. She will also arrive in April.

Watching an eclipse never gets old, she explained.

“Suddenly darkness descends and it’s like booming — you’re in a completely different world,” he said. “It’s thrilling, exciting, awe-inspiring, goose-pump-inducing, humbling.”

After the eclipse leaves Texas, it will cross the Gulf of Mexico and head toward Central and South America. By the time it reaches Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, its shadow is expected to fall on cities like Campeche and Setumal, as well as on the pyramids at Etsna, an archaeological site of about 5,000 people. Researchers, scientists and local authorities are planning events across the peninsula. The “Festival of the Sun” in Campeche the evening before the eclipse includes concerts, dance performances and tribal traditions.

The school students visit the eclipse to an archaeological site on the small island of Jaina. Local authorities in Campeche have warned of an increase in tourists and have opened additional viewing platforms in parks, gardens, art centers and even an old people’s home. Some sites have binoculars with filters for the public.

Daniela Tarhuni, a member of the Yucatan Eclipse Committee, noted at a news conference in August that the region will celebrate its Mayan heritage as the eclipse passes through the heart of the native land. Historically, eclipses were ominous events for the indigenous Maya people. But some Maya people offered another perspective on the phenomenon.

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The October 14 eclipse is “a new opportunity to appreciate Mayan wisdom based on knowledge and observation of the cosmos and the movement of the stars,” Carlos Chable Mendoza, Mayan author, historian and cultural promoter in Quintana Roo. said La Jornada Maya on Thursday.

“Remember that we, the Mayans, are the masters of time,” he added, emphasizing what eclipses meant to earlier generations of Maya people. “Therefore, an eclipse, like any other that has occurred in these thousands of years, helps to measure time.”

Although solar eclipses have been observed for thousands of years, the science behind them is far from settled.

“There’s still a lot to learn about the Sun,” says Amir Cosby, a physicist at Southwestern Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Saturday, some researchers plan Use ham radios to study how solar eclipses affect the ionosphere, the part of Earth’s atmosphere that meets space. Another project In California It will measure radio emissions from solar hot spots and study their relationship with space weather. More tests are planned Total solar eclipse in April.

But you don’t have to be a scientist to realize the significance of a solar eclipse.

“This is a unique opportunity to see the magical clockwork of our solar system,” said Dan Seaton, a physicist at Southwest Research Institute who will work with Dr. Cosby on an experiment that will monitor the Sun’s upper atmosphere.

He encourages viewers to notice how their surroundings change during an annular eclipse: the air cools, birds gather and shadows sharpen as the moon swallows the sun.

Dr. Marchis recommends documenting the experience as much as possible this weekend.

“For every eclipse, I have a memory — a story to tell,” he said.

John Keefe Contributed report and Emiliano Rodriguez Mega Contributed research from Mexico City.

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