You’ll want to add solar eclipse glasses to your shopping list this month as we get ready for the Annular Solar Eclipse on Saturday, October 14 which will be visible from Tampa Bay! Another one will follow in six months.
We’re turning to José Cotayo with MOSI for expert advice on how to view the solar eclipse from Tampa Bay and even how you can attend a viewing party at the museum.
*As always, our content is written for people, by people.
When is the Solar Eclipse in 2023?
The Annular Solar Eclipse on October 14, 2023, is one of two great eclipses that will be visible from North America, with the second, a Total Solar Eclipse, taking place on April 8, 2024. The Annular Solar Eclipse will be visible on October 14 starting at 11:50 am, reaching a maximum at 1:25 pm, and ending at 3:02 pm.
What is an eclipse?
The Sun’s diameter is about 400 times larger than the Moon’s. It also lies about 400 times farther away. Thanks to this incredible coincidence, the Sun and the Moon appear to be roughly the same size in the sky from our vantage point here on Earth.
This means that when the orbital geometry of the Sun, Moon, and Earth is just right, we can experience eclipses!
But wait, then why don’t we see a solar eclipse every new moon? That’s because the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is at a slight angle, so it sometimes lies just “above” or “below” a direct line from the Sun to the Earth and the Moon’s shadow extends out to space and does not cast onto our planet.
Will we be able to see the eclipse in Tampa Bay?
Yes, the solar eclipse will be partially visible from the Tampa Bay area. The Moon will block out just shy of 60% of the solar disk for both eclipses from our standpoint here in Tampa Bay. This also means at no point will it be safe to directly observe without appropriate gear. Never look at the Sun without proper filtration!
Regular sunglasses are not enough to protect your eyes for direct solar viewing; you must use eclipse glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 standard or a welder’s mask that is shade #12 and that is free of lens scratches.
Additionally, it should ideally be less than three years old. I can’t stress it enough: please do not jeopardize your vision!
Do you need all of that fancy gear just to experience the eclipse?
No, you only need the fancy solar eclipse gear if you plan to observe the Sun directly. For indirect solar viewing, all you need is a way to simulate a pinhole projector! No supplies? No problem!
How to make a pinhole projector to view solar eclipse.
All you need is a sheet of paper and a saltine or Ritz cracker; turn your back away from the Sun and hold up the cracker in front of the sheet of paper. The sunlight will pass through the little holes in the cracker and project the eclipsed Sun onto the paper.
Actually, this works with anything that has small holes in it like a colander, an index card with a hole punched through it, or even loosely overlapped fingers! It is important to note that you are not looking through the pinhole, but using it to project the image onto another surface. Remember, your back faces away from the Sun!
If you are near some trees, take some time to look down at the shadows — the leaves will act as a pinhole projector and the resulting image should be quite a sight.
Unique impacts of a solar eclipse.
During an eclipse, even a partial one like what we will experience, animals can behave differently due to a subtle decrease in temperature and light intensity — the sounds of nature tend to become more pronounced as well, something to look out for as the eclipse progresses.
If you do make it outdoors for the eclipse, which I encourage, remember to stay hydrated and dress comfortably! But if you can’t make it outside, watching a live stream from the comfort of an air-conditioned room is a close second.
How to view solar eclipse at MOSI
MOSI will be hosting a Solar Eclipse event that is included as a free bonus with paid daily admission and runs from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. This lines up closely with the key eclipse times — starts at 11:50 am, reaches maximum at 1:25 pm, and ends at 3:02 pm.
You will be able to participate in hands-on Sun-themed science activities, observe live streams of the eclipse on various screens along the exhibit path, and use sun-safe solar telescopes staffed by our team of MOSI astronomers.
Our outdoor Science Park area offers a great chance to observe the event, and if you forget to bring your eclipse glasses, we have some available for purchase. You’ll definitely want to make sure to store them safely after October 14th because we plan to host another Solar Eclipse event come April 8, 2024!
The best way to ensure the glasses stay safe is to put them in a hard eyeglasses case, but simply placing them in a ziplock bag and storing them somewhere flat with nothing on top should be sufficient. Always check for scratches or pinholes before use!
Related stories we think you’ll LOVE:
- 20+ Awesome Things to Do this Weekend in Tampa Bay
- 50+ Fall Festivals, Halloween Events, Pumpkin Patches and MORE!
- The BEST Places to Watch a Rocket Launch in Florida