Trip to the Annular Solar Eclipse in California

This annular eclipse will blot out about 95% of the sun. Unlike a total eclipse, during an annular eclipse, the moon is slightly smaller than the sun, and the only thing that shows as the moon moves over the sun is the sun’s corona as a bright ring. 95% of the sun eclipsed means it is very dark for about 4 minutes.

The first time I took the family to see an eclipse of the sun, was when my kids were 10 and 13 years old. We went to the southern end of England, and were staying at a bed and breakfast inn. The traffic and difficulty in getting a hotel room were a serious problem. The eclipse occurred at about 10:30 in the morning, and we sat out on picnic tables behind our bed and breakfast and waited for the dark. The biggest issue was that is was cloudy and overcast, so you couldn’t see the sun or the corona. When the eclipse came, it got quite dark, the birds and animals all got quiet, the wind died down, and it got quite cool. Then 4 minutes later, the sun came back on. Our kids looked at us and said – that was cool, now can we go to the beach?

Having an solar eclipse in northern California this time of year, and at 6:30 PM means that we will likely get to see the moon pass over the sun and see the corona. This makes the entire experience even more exciting. There will not be another solar eclipse in the United States for 17 years.

I tried to make it a family trip again, but my wife said she’s not sitting in the car for seven hours just to see an eclipse for 4 minutes. She suggested we stay home and shut off the lights. Sometimes, I think traveling even with a 7 hour round trip, to see one of the real wonders of our planet is well worth the effort. I am glad my son is up for it.

Aaron and I will take some pictures, and when the moon does blot out the sun and shows only its corona, he and I will crack open a couple of Coronas to celebrate.

If you are going to watch the eclipse, get eye protection. You can’t just put on a pair of sun glasses. Staring at the sun will permanently blind you. You can poke a hole in the side of a cardboard box, and face the hole toward the sun. You should see a picture of the sun and moon on the inside of the box that you can safely watch.

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