For folks interested in sky-watching, there will be an annular solar eclipse on Sunday, May 20th. While folks in the western portion of the U.S. will get the best show, a partial eclipse will also be visible in a much wider swath of the country, including my very own Minnesota.
This eclipse is a called an annular eclipse. During the eclipse, the moon will pass directly in front of the sun, and the entire moon will essentially appear to “fit” inside the sun, but not cover it completely. (This happens because the apparent size of the moon is not sufficient to block the whole sun.) This will create a blazing halo that should be quite a sight.
The rest of us will get a partial eclipse, as the moon will appear to block a portion of the sun. Still pretty nifty, if you ask me.
In Minneapolis, the eclipse will start at 6:19 pm and last until 7:20 pm. To determine when you should view it, check out this handy table from NASA. (FYI: The table refers to Universal Standard Time, so you have to convert it to your time zone.)
If you plan to view the eclipse, be sure to take precautions. Viewing a solar eclipse without eye protection is dangerous. Also, do not attempt to view a solar eclipse through a telescope or other viewing device unless you have a proper solar filter. (That’s how you melt your face off.) For tips on how to observe the eclipse safely, check out this article by NASA.
For more info: NASA’s Solar Eclipse page (which includes a solar eclipse schedule for the next 1000 years). I’m not kidding. How awesome is that?
Update: I am a total dork. The table refers to Universal Time, not Universal Standard time. Since we are in Daylight Savings Time in MN, the the time period I listed above was an hour earlier than the actual eclipse. You’ve got my apologies if, like me, you went outside and simply saw the sun, sans eclipse.