Capture The 2nd Last American Last Solar Eclipse For 20 Years

Four phases of a solar eclipse in the desert.

Millions of potential astrophotographers across a broad swath of the United States, and part of Mexico will be able to enjoy a stunning annular solar eclipse on October 14th of 2023.

Because this is an annual eclipse instead of a more famous full eclipse, it won’t be total, but it will still be spectacular and more impressive than your “average” partial solar eclipse.

With annular, or “ring of fire”, eclipses, the moon passes between the sun and the earth as it does with a classic full solar eclipse, but it does so at its furthest distance from Earth.

This causes it to block out most of the sun’s light, but not as much as a full eclipse does. Instead, a thick ring of fiery light can be seen beyond the edges of the moon’s silhouette.

In a nutshell, that’s what an annular eclipse is all about and it’s the last one that will hit North America for many years.

If you’re in Oregon, the very end of north-east California, Nevada, Utah, the northwestern tip of Arizona, the southwest tip of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, or in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you have one hell of a sky photography opportunity on your hands.

The October 14th eclipse will be moving from west to east, so if you’re in Oregon on October 14th, you can see it start at 9:13 am Pacific Time. From there it’s going to make its way eastward until it’s visible over southern Texas at 12:03 PM Central Time before being visible in southern Mexico too.

Nasa’s handy guide to next month’s natural spectacle is also worth checking out.

A map showing the path of a solar eclipse.

Obviously, if you’re already in one of the areas covered by the eclipse in the map above, seeing it just means stepping outside at the right time (try not to sleep in), and hoping the day isn’t overcast.

Though the eclipse lasts over two hours across the entirety of its path, it will only be visible for a few minutes in any one place, so you’ll really want to be punctual and hope that the weather stays friendly.

Fortunately for those in most of the areas covered by this eclipse at this time of year, sunny weather should be the average, though this is hardly guaranteed.

The eclipse will be partially visible in other parts of the U.S.A. outside the central eclipse stripe even as far outward as New England but these views will be incomplete and much less spectacular.

Honestly, if you love sky photography and want to capture a genuinely unique event, this eclipse is one worth traveling a bit for if you’re not too far from one of its areas of maximum passage.

North America won’t have another annular eclipse in this decade and there will be only one total eclipse in April of 2024. Then that’s it for the next 20 years.

A solar eclipse is seen through a ring of light.

As for the mechanics of viewing and photographing the eclipse, first the obvious warning: DO NOT look directly at the event with either your naked eyes or much less through a non-EVF viewfinder. Viewing solar eclipses (and viewing the sun in general) with your naked eyes is a great way to ruin your eyesight quickly.

Instead, use formally certified eclipse glasses that let you see the full spectacle directly without all the literally blinding brightness.

For your camera, use a solar filter to take your shots and using a solar filter is also important if you’re planning on viewing the eclipse through your telescope or binoculars.

On a more basic level, you can also look at the eclipse indirectly by using pinhole projection.

What’s more, even if you don’t actually look at the blazing event itself or have a camera, the luminosity generated by solar eclipses creates a singularly unique visual effect over the landscape, that’s really unlike anything else in this world.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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