The final solar eclipse of 2023 will begin its path across the U.S. on Saturday morning, but weather experts say cloudy conditions will likely reduce visibility for many Americans.
This solar event will be an annular solar eclipse, meaning the moon will be far from Earth in its orbit and therefore appear smaller than usual. As the moon passes in front of the sun, it will not completely cover it – instead, a circle of light will surround the moon, a phenomenon that earned the eclipse the nickname “Ring of Fire.”
The annular solar eclipse will begin to move across the US in the Pacific Northwest. It is expected to begin at 9:13 a.m. PDT in Oregon. according to NASA. The eclipse will then travel southeast until it leaves the United States in southern Texas at 12:03 p.m. CDT. It will then cross the Gulf of Mexico before moving over parts of Central and South America.
People who are in the eclipse’s annular path have the best chance of seeing all phases, although everyone in the contiguous U.S. should be able to see part of the eclipse, NASA experts say. However, cloudy conditions could affect viewing plans, starting in areas near the U.S. entrance of the eclipse.
In conversation with Newsweek AccuWeather senior meteorologist Mike Doll said by phone Friday afternoon that “pretty heavy cloud cover” was expected across the northwestern United States. people in the metropolitan areas of Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon, “likely will not be able to view the eclipse” due to cloudy conditions. These areas would have the “worst conditions” for observing a solar eclipse, he said.
Cloudy skies were also forecast along the East Coast, according to the National Weather Service Prediction Center, which posted a map of its cloud forecast for the eclipse on X, formerly Twitter.
Improved visibility conditions are expected in the central and southern Rocky Mountains, the southwestern United States and the Southern Plains. In Salt Lake City, Utah, meteorologists don’t expect it to be “completely cloudy,” but there probably won’t be enough cloudbursts to view the eclipse, Doll said. Cloudy conditions are also in the forecast for Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, but those areas should have “pretty good visibility conditions,” he said. Major cities in Texas are also expected to see strong interest.
Sun and weather experts remind those who want to watch the eclipse to do so safely by using special eclipse glasses or homemade tools like pinhole cameras designed to protect the eyes from the sun. NASA has Instructions on his website walking people through the steps of making a pinhole camera out of cardboard, aluminum foil and tape.
For those without optimal viewing conditions, NASA will stream the eclipse live on its YouTube channel.
This will be the last solar eclipse of 2023. The next such event will be a total solar eclipse that will occur on April 8th.