By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
Last Saturday’s solar eclipse, the first one seen in the mountaintop area in about four years, drew some 50 to 60 persons to Mountain Skies Astronomical Society’s (MSAS) Astronomy Village, located on a hilltop adjacent to Rim High School.
What is termed an “annular solar eclipse,” during which the moon doesn’t completely cover the sun, began shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 when a small, dark, crescent-shaped segment of the moon’s shadow appeared on the upper left corner of the sun and continued to grow in size until it covered about two-thirds of the sun’s surface.
The eclipse was preceded by a so-called “ring of fire,” which appeared in the form of a hazy, orange halo that encircled the sun. Many viewers at the observatory came prepared with certified eclipse glasses or a hand-held solar viewer. Those without were able to purchase them at the society’s Star Gazer gift shop. Not using the protective eyewear can cause permanent damage – or even blindness – to one’s eyes.
The 125-mile-wide eclipse path – which was seen by millions – began in Oregon and continued southward over Mexico and Central and South America. This rare “annular,” partial eclipse is on track to repeat itself in 2046. However, a total eclipse is expected to occur over the same area on April 8, 2024.
MSAS president Dr. Loran Parker opened the society’s observatory to anyone willing to wait in line to have a peek at the eclipse trough the society’s research grade Brownlee telescope, which was equipped with a solar filter. In the meantime, dozens of local residents and visitors came from as far away as Long Beach to witness the eclipse.
Orlando, age 8, who came with his parents from Riverside, said, “I haven’t seen one in four years. It looks really cool.” Goldie and her twin sister, Dusty, who are age 5 and attend Lake Arrowhead Elementary, both climbed up a ladder to look at the eclipse through the protected telescope lens. Afterward, Goldie, noting that she had visited MSAS several times before with her parents, commented, “The sun looks like kitty cat ears.”
When asked why it’s important to protect your eyes when looking at the sun, Dusty said, “You should always wear glasses, so you won’t go blind.”
MSAS is open each Saturday (weather permitting) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with evening programs featuring a 1.5-hour slide presentation with a question-and-answer session delivered by an astronomer and safe solar viewing through the MSAS Observatory. For more information, or to make a reservation call (909) 336-1699.