East Hawaii News

Partial Solar Eclipse to Occur Thursday Afternoon

May 8, 2013, 4:34 PM HST
* Updated May 8, 6:25 PM
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Hawaii residents on Thursday will be the first in the nation to witness a solar eclipse this year.

The eclipse will be visible only in the Pacific.

Near the equator and nearby portions of the South Pacific, the type of solar eclipse visible will be an annular eclipse, in which the moon passes directly in front of the sun but is too far from the earth to cover the sun’s disc completely.

Viewers near the equator or in the South Pacific will see an annular or "ring of fire" solar eclipse. NASA photo.

Viewers near the equator or in the South Pacific will see an annular or “ring of fire” solar eclipse. NASA photo.

The event is also known as a “ring of fire” eclipse.

It gets its name from annulus, which is the Latin word for “little ring.”

Because Hawaii is located about 20 degrees north of the equator, only a partial eclipse will be visible to viewers here.

Times will vary according to the location of the viewer.

According to the Bishop Planetarium in Honolulu, the event will begin at 2:25 p.m. in Hilo and will be over at 5:04 p.m., with the peak occurring at 3:50 p.m.

According to the planetarium, 44% of the sun will be covered at its peak.

It is extremely dangerous to view any part of the sun with the naked eye, or with an optical device such as binoculars or telescope. Permanent eye damage or blindness can result.

Experts say the simplest way is to view a solar eclipse is to use pinhole projection. That involves poking a small hole in an index card and holding a second card three or four feet away in the first card’s shadow to catch the image of the Sun’s disk.

A more elaborate variation involves construction of a box with a pinhole at one end and a white card inside the other end.

Direct viewing should only be done using specially designed “eclipse glasses” or arc-welder’s glass of shade #13 or #14; anything lower will not provide adequate protection.

Another alternative is to view it online via the SLOOH Space Camera which will have a live feed of the event using a telescope in Australia equipped with a solar-filter.

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