Solar eclipse scheduled for Saturday

BROOKINGS, S.D.(KXLG)- A solar eclipse will be visible to much of the country this Saturday.

The moon will move precisely in front of the Sun for observers along a narrow strip of land stretching across the United States from Oregon to Texas and continuing to Central and South America. Other parts of the country will see the moon only partially cover the Sun. In Watertown, the Sun will be about 55 percent covered. The eclipse will begin at 10:24 a.m. in Watertown, reach its maximum at 11:43, and end at 1:07.

But clouds may prevent locals from seeing this eclipse. Weather forecasts call for cloudy conditions on Saturday. If that’s the case, Dr. Judy Vondruska, an astronomy and physics instructor at South Dakota State University, said there are alternatives.

Since the moon will be at the furthest point in its orbit from Earth at that time, it won’t completely block the Sun; instead, a dramatic “ring” effect will be seen as the bright edge of the Sun will be visible around the black silhouette of the moon. The distinct appearance of this eclipse style is why it’s called an “annular” eclipse; annular means ring-like.

The eclipse isn’t the only big event on Saturday, Vondruska said.

Anyone in Brookings for Hobo Day festivities will have access to some eclipse-viewing help if the clouds cooperate, Vondruska said.

The only safe way to look directly at the Sun during an eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.