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  • Writer's pictureJames Paulson

October 14, 2023 Annular Solar Eclipse

This coming Saturday morning, October 14, 2023, for a brief time, the moon will pass in front of the sun. From a region along the path of maximum coverage, the moon will cover most of the sun but since it is farther from us than during a total solar eclipse, we will see a ring of fire similar to the picture above.

Annular eclipses are not quite as exciting as total solar eclipses, but the moon will still put on a good show on Saturday, even from Alberta, where it will take a "bite" out of the sun at maximum coverage.

I've often wondered how these events would be perceived in a scientifically underdeveloped society. Eclipses were often viewed as omens of doom by Ancient covilizations, but they were aware of them, and the ancient Greeks and Babylonians had a crude understanding of them. The saros cycle whereby an eclipse occurs approximately 18 years from thje previous one somewhere on Earth was somewhat understood. These ancient rhythms of the sky became the basis for a deeper understanding of celestial motions.

The world would have to wait for Edmund Halley -the same one of comet fame - to come along and accurately use mathematics to predict both the time and location of a solar eclipse that happened on May 3, 1715. His prediction was witihin 4 minutes and 18 miles of the actual event itself, which was pretty good for its time.

Astronomy magazine has an excellent article on the history of solar eclipses and even a timeline of the understanding we have gained over the years of this phenomena and leading up to modern time. You can see it at the link provided below.

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