FAU’s Astronomical Observatory Hosted ‘Ring of Fire’ Partial Solar Eclipse EventWednesday, Oct 25, 2023
Florida Atlantic University’s Astronomical Observatory hosted a “Sidewalk Astronomy” event to view this fall’s solar eclipse, known as the “ring of fire” on Oct. 14. In order for guests to safely view the sun and the moon as they appear together in the sky, Schmidt College of Science Department of Physics staff provided telescopes with solar filters set up and passed out eclipse glasses. The event, which was open to all members of the Florida Atlantic community and the public, saw a turnout of approximately 60 sky-gazing enthusiasts.
This particular eclipse was an annular or “ring-shaped” solar eclipse. When the moon covers the sun’s center, it leaves the sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” protruding around its shadow. While the sight is breathtaking, Eric Vandernoot, astronomy and physics laboratory coordinator at FAU, noted that, “the name of the ‘ring of fire’ is rather erroneous. The sun is not fire as it is too hot to burn things on it!”
During the three-hour event, the moon partially blocked Earth-dwellers' view of the sun. First contact was at 11:59 a.m., maximal coverage was at 1:28 p.m., and the last contact was at 3:09 p.m. Despite the cloudy weather, guests were very patient to view the eclipse, and once there was a break in the clouds, they rushed to put on viewing glasses and watch through the telescopes. They saw a maximum coverage of the sun of nearly 40 percent by the moon.
For Florida residents, however, this eclipse looked like a partial coverage of the sun. To have seen all phases of this annular eclipse, viewers must have been within the path of annularity, which covered parts of Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
“My favorite part of these events is to share the excitement with others,” said Vandernoot. “Not only are they rare events for us on Earth to see, but it is entirely unusual anywhere else in the solar system, as no other planet and moon system has such a perfect alignment for this to occur for them. We are very unique in the solar system to have such events like this, and so, we should celebrate them!”
Save the date for the Observatory’s next exciting event for Jupiter’s opposition on the evening of Friday, Nov. 3. Viewers will be able to watch the planet’s Great Red Spot and its moon, Europa, transit across Jupiter’s face. For event details, click here.