Preparations underway for Saturday's rare 'Ring of Fire' solar eclipse passing over US

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Friday, October 13, 2023
Preparations underway for Saturday's rare 'Ring of Fire' eclipse
Our skies will be transformed on Saturday during a rare annular solar eclipse passing right by parts of the Western U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When you get up Saturday morning, make sure to look up.

Our skies will be transformed during a rare annular solar eclipse passing right by parts of the Western U.S., including here in the Bay Area.

"A solar eclipse happens when the moon moves directly between the earth and the sun," NASA Research and Analysis Heliophysics Division Lead Patrick Koehn said. "With an annular eclipse, the moon is a little bit farther away than it ordinarily might be. So, it doesn't quite cover the entire disc of the sun and it leaves this ring shape."

VIDEO: Bay Area expert shares what to expect for 'Ring of Fire' solar eclipse

University of San Francisco Astronomy Professor Andrew Fraknoi tells ABC7 News what to expect and how to view Saturday's "Ring of Fire" eclipse.

"This is an opportunity to see a very rare event," said NASA Ames Research Center Senior Research Scientist Jon Jenkins. "And that is, an occasion when the moon is actually between the Earth and the sun from our point of view and can actually get in front of the sun and actually block a large portion of it."

The eclipse is known as the Ring of Fire.

For three hours Saturday morning starting around 8 a.m., the sun will begin to be blocked by the moon during its orbit.

It's path is much closer to us here in the Bay Area compared to the 2017 total solar eclipse and the one coming in April 2024.

RELATED: 'Ring of fire' solar eclipse will slice across Americas on Saturday with millions along path

That's good news for us because around 9:30 a.m., we'll see the moon cover about 70% of the sun.

Since the sun will still be visible, you can only look at it through special eclipse glasses or through pinhole cameras.

These can be naturally made from using the shadows of trees or even using products from home.

"It's a really simple process," said ABC7 News Meteorologist Drew Tuma. "All you need was a cereal box, a white piece of paper and some aluminum foil. So, once again, once you have your viewing device all done, you're going to want to put your back towards the sun, put your eye in one hole and watch as the sun goes through the other hole."

No eclipse viewing glasses? No problem. Here is NASA
No eclipse viewing glasses? No problem. Here is NASA's diagram for making a solar eclipse-viewable pinhole camera with a cereal box from home.

"What you're seeing is a projection, an image of the sun, and the shadow of the moon as it passes across the sun," Jenkins said.

VIDEO: Watch 2017 total solar eclipse in under 2 minutes

A rare celestial event has come and gone. If you missed the total solar eclipse, we have you covered! Watch it in less than two minutes here.

As millions around the country prepare to watch the eclipse, CAISO is preparing for how to handle it.

The three-hour event will reduce output from grid-scale and rooftop solar generation compared to a normal day.

Advance planning and forecasting have been critical to mitigate any loss.

PHOTOS: Solar eclipse 2017 captivates America

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The moon covers the sun during a total eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, near Redmond, Ore.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

"We do expect that with the amount of coordination and planning with the stakeholders, we'll be able to safeguard the reliability of the grid during Saturday's eclipse," said CAISO Director Of Short Term Forecasting Amber Motley. "We expect that we will successfully manage all of the loss and return of the solar."

CAISO will do an analysis on how the grid handles the partial eclipse for more advanced preparation of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

"It's a singular moment in time where you get to see something -- along with, of course, several billion of your other closest friends -- you get to see this first-hand, this unique opportunity first-hand," Koehn said.

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