RIVERBEND - A partial solar eclipse will be visible for people across the Riverbend on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

From 10:32 a.m. to 1:26 p.m., the moon will move to block the sun. People in the Metro East area can observe the eclipse best at 11:57 a.m. when the sun will be 53% obscured by the moon, which is the peak for our region. Special glasses are needed to safely view the eclipse.

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“This solar eclipse actually is what’s called an annular solar eclipse where the moon does not cover the entire disk of the sun. It covers only the central potion,” explained Dr. Abdullatif Hamad, professor and interim chair of the physics department at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “There will be just a ring around the sun; that’s why sometimes they call it the ‘Ring of Fire.’ So it will still be observable, but that’s not in our area. In our area it’s going to be just partial.”

The total solar eclipse will be observable from Oregon to Texas. We will only be able to see a partial eclipse, but it should still be noticeable to us, though the National Weather Service of St. Louis forecasts cloudy weather for Saturday.

Still, Hamad stresses the importance of wearing protective glasses; goggles or sunglasses are not enough. He reminds people of the solar eclipse in 2017, which also required special glasses to view. The glasses are designed to protect your eyes when looking directly at the sun, and he noted that you can use them whenever you want to look at the sun and see sunspots without a telescope.

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“People should know that sunglasses don’t work. They will damage the eye,” Hamad added. “These solar eclipse shades are safe because they’re certified — well, you know, make sure they are certified.”

While the Riverbend will only see a partial eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, a near-total solar eclipse will be visible in our region on April 8, 2024. Already nicknamed “The Great North American Eclipse,” this eclipse will fall almost directly in the path of the Metro East. Hamad said that Mount Vernon, IL., and other towns within an hour of the Riverbend can expect to see three to four minutes of totality.

SIUE has several activities in the works for the April 2024 eclipse. Hamad noted these eclipses are a chance to encourage an interest in science and astronomy.

“When events like this happen, it’s good that we get the students involved, the community involved,” he said. “Hopefully we inspire young generations to be more interested in science and, in general, STEM areas.”

For more information about the Oct. 14, 2023, eclipse, including the best places to view it on SIUE’s campus, check out their official eclipse webpage at SIUE.edu/eclipse.

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