Eyes to the skies for the solar eclipse

Bulletin staff report /


Published May 20, 2012 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

This evening, for the first time in eight years, Central Oregon viewers will be treated to a partial solar eclipse.

The eclipse will begin over eastern Asia on Monday morning, local time. Late this evening, viewers in the Western United States, Canada and Mexico can catch a glimpse.

Central Oregon is just north of the optimal locations to see the annular eclipse, which produces the “ring of fire” effect. Cities that will get those views include Medford; Chico, Calif.; Reno, Nev.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Lubbock, Texas.

Still, Central Oregonians will be able to see the rare solar spectacle tonight — assuming the evening clouds behave.

“We will not get the ring,” said Bob Grossfeld, manager at the Sunriver Nature Center&Observatory. “It'll look more like a Pac-Man.”

The eclipse will begin at 5:08 p.m. as the moon moves slowly across the face of the sun setting in the western sky. Peak viewing will occur at 6:24 p.m., when about 86 percent of the sun's light will be blocked.

The last partial solar eclipse in Central Oregon occurred in 2004, and the next — a total eclipse — will come in 2017.

Grossfeld cautions viewers not to look directly at the sun without protective eyewear. The Sunriver Observatory, at 57245 River Road, offers solar telescopes and special eclipse glasses for a $5 donation. The observatory will be open from 4:30 to 7 p.m. tonight.

If you miss the eclipse, don't worry: another astronomical event will occur the afternoon of June 5, when Venus crosses a corner of the sun in what's known as a transit.