Chico Community Observatory Preps for Annular Eclipse

May 16, 2012 4:29 PM

Nature will put on quite a show this weekend as the sun and moon cross paths for a rare annular eclipse. It's an event that only happens about every 18 years. During an annular eclipse, the moon covers the sun. Chico Community Observatory Director Kris Koenig says this type of eclipse is rare because of the distance between the moon and the earth.

"It appears like an 8 ball falling into a pool table pocket. It's just going to go into the sun. It's going to be completely engulfed by the sun. You're just going to see a yellow ring of sunlight around it," he says.

The Chico Community Observatory is well prepared for Sunday's spectacle. It will have additional solar telescopes for the event. Staff members are also selling special glasses for viewing the eclipse at the observatory for $3.

"This is an annular eclipse so you have to have protective eyewear the whole time. If you don't, you'll have eye damage," says Koenig.

If you don't have special solar eyewear, welding glasses will also work. If you want to capture the eclipse on camera you'll need to use protective film. The moon will start to cross the face of the sun just after 5 p.m. on Sunday. The total eclipse itself won't last more than 4 minutes, and the entire spectacle will be over by 7:40 p.m.. Parking is limited at the observatory, so visitors are asked to plan ahead.

"If you can walk in please walk in or ride a bike. There's going to be plenty of space here. There's going to be plenty of telescopes. (We) encourage you to bring out your lawn chairs, kick back, bring up some iced teas or some water and really just enjoy the show."

To kick off the event, the observatory has invited U.C. Berkeley astronomy professor Alex Filippenko to speak at Pleasant Valley High's Center for the Arts at 2 p.m. If you'd like more information about Sunday's festivities we've posted a link on our website under Newslinks.


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