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Nothing triggers excitement in the sky like a Solar Eclipse. I have never seen a Total Solar Eclipse, though we did have a decent Total Annular Solar Eclipse here back on Tuesday10 May 1994. Even that was only 91% and off-center (maximum centered Total Annular Solar Eclipse was in Ohio).
The next BIG Solar Eclipse is 21 August 2017 for North America. It won't be total here in West Michigan, and I'm not sure if it will be total in the continental United States (my Eclipse Finder just percent totality for specific locations -- I got up to 96% for Evansville, Indiana).
We get a little taste of an eclipse here, starting before the sun sets and finishing after... It's only 27% coverage, so you won't notice a dramatic darkness in the middle of the day. (It's getting darker because the sun is setting! So it ain't the middle of the day, either...) The Moon, which will be cutting across the bottom of the Sun, sets at 9:12pm -- the Sun sets six minutes later at 9:18pm EDT.
Make yourself a pinhole shadown eclipse viewer. All you need is one index card with a small hole punched in it and a second card (or piece of paper) to project the light onto. The closer the two cards are, the brighter (but smaller) the image will appear.
And of course all this depends on our lovely West Michigan Weather co-operating.
Kalamazoo Weather Forecast
You need: Two index cards, a small square of aluminum foil, some Scotch tape.
Tools: A sharp knife such as an X-acto knife (scissors will do in a pinch), and one small pin.
By using a piece of thin metal foil for the pinhole, instead of the index card, the hole can be made SMALLER, CLEANER and THINNER, all of which improve the image.
Dr. Phil does not recommend trying to take pictures directly of a solar eclipse, unless you know how and have the proper equipment. You don't want to burn a hole in your shutter (conventional film camera) or burn out your imaging sensor (digital camera).
It is a well-known fact that there are usually, if not two, Lunar Eclipses associated with the Full Moons on either side of a Solar Eclipse. Makes sense, because (a) to have a Solar Eclipse the Moon's path in the sky has to intersect the Sun and (b) to have a Lunar Eclipse, the Moon's path has to be aligned to intersect the shadow of the Earth from the Sun. The kicker is that the Earth's shadow is bigger than the Moon, so there is so more slop.
And in fact there was a very minor Lunar Eclipse on May 26th, but we couldn't see it here in Kalamazoo because it peaked at 8 am -- and because the Sun was well above the horizon, you couldn't possibly have seen the Full Moon in shadow. There's a little bit better one on June 24th, but if you were to check the times carefully, you'd find out that, again, the Full Moon doesn't rise until 9:30 pm. So no joy.
But we do get a Partial Lunar Eclipse all evening until midnight on 19 November 2002. And we get a good Total Lunar Eclipse on 15 May 2003. So stay tuned!
Last Update: 06/09/2002