Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Will October 23 Partial Solar Eclipse Look Like from Indiana?

I haven't seen a partial solar eclipse in a long time, especially not at sunset and not since I moved to Indiana. So what will the partial solar eclipse on October 23, 2014 look like as it sets? Will the eclipse be visible from Indiana? What percent of the sun will be covered, and at what time? Let's find out...

I usually use software like Stellarium to approximate what I can expect to see, at what elevation above the horizon and in what direction. In this case, Stellarium (top below) does give a good approximation of what I can expect, but doesn't give me details like time of maximum eclipse and percentage of totality (is that a term?).

what will eclipse look like indiana october 23
Screenshot from Stellarium showing the partial solar eclipse from Indiana at about 6:25pm ET

what will eclipse look like indiana october 23
Image from timeanddate.com Eclipse Calculator
I was really impressed with the information on timeanddate.com! It looks like the eclipse will reach its maximum at 6:47pm just minutes before sunset at 6:53pm ET. That's cutting it pretty close! The sun will be just 0.5° above the horizon - that's less than the width of a finger held at arm's length, or about the width of the full moon. You will need an extremely clear view of the horizon, or find some elevation such as the roof of a parking garage.

The partial eclipse begins in Indiana at 5:44pm when the sun is at an elevation of 11.6° - or about the width of your fist held at arm's length. If you want to plan ahead to see if your favorite spot will provide a clear view, you can read my other post with Three Methods to Measure the Elevation of Objects on the Horizon. I'd also recommend the app PhotoPills because it lets you use augmented reality to view the path of the sun at any time on any date.

I have a meeting at 7:00pm sharp, but I think I'm going to try to get a quick view from the roof of a parking garage on the IUPUI campus to see at least part of the eclipse. I was going to try to get a photo at sunset, but there's no way the sun will be dim enough at 6:30pm to photograph or try to view with the naked eye - so it looks like I'll be making a pinhole viewer and trying to snap a quick iPhone pic of the projection. That definitely still counts and it's much safer!

iPhone Bonus! You can actually take an iPhone photo of the eclipse using this one simple trick

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