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Forgotten Crescents

by Perry Pezzolanella

The Great American Eclipse was unlike any celestial event ever seen by many for those who experienced totality. However, a majority could not travel. They had to settle for the partial phases of a crescent Sun but still found it fascinating to experience this rare sight. The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. is April 8, 2024 leading many to believe that there are no more solar eclipses to be seen here until then, but that is incorrect. There will be two more opportunities to observe a crescent Sun before the big one in 2024 and both are rather easy to see with one of them being dramatic.

The next partial solar eclipse to be seen locally is the dramatic one capable of producing lasting memories. It will occur on June 10, 2021 shortly after sunrise. Clear skies and a good horizon to the northeast are mandatory. A stunning crescent Sun rises at 5:21 A.M. with maximum eclipse at 5:37 A.M. with the sun being 77% obscured and the entire eclipse ends at 6:36 A.M. What makes it more dramatic is that the eclipse is annular over the Hudson Bay with the Moon a little smaller than the Sun so it can never be total. The result is a rather thin, sharply pointed crescent unlike the one seen locally on August 21, 2017. Because the Moon is slightly smaller that the Sun it must cut deeply, 83%, into the diameter Sun, to achieve 77% obscuration. This will produce a sleek, sharply pointed crescent and it will be low on the horizon to boot, allowing for some wonderful photo opportunities with nearby landmarks. Perhaps photos can be taken that make it appear as if someone is standing in the crescent! It has to be perfectly clear along the horizon with no fog or haze, but being early June that could be a challenge.

If foul weather hampers the 2021 eclipse, there is still one more chance before 2024. A less dramatic, but still very interesting partial solar eclipse occurs on October 14, 2023 and will be fully visible from start to finish. The first bite taken out of the Sun occurs at 12:06 P.M. with maximum eclipse occurring at 1:17 P.M. with the Sun 22% eclipsed. It is not a dramatic eclipse as the quality of sunlight may not dim enough to be noticed, but the super-thick crescent will still be a curiosity worthy of photography, especially if there are sunspots. This is another annular eclipse which will occur in the western U.S. this time and will also sharpen the horns of the crescent again as the Moon will have to cut 33% into the face of the Sun to achieve 22% obscuration. This eclipse also occurs during the time of year when the haze and threat of thunderstorms has passed and the lake effect cloud season has yet to settle in. The eclipse ends at 2:29 P.M. paving the way for the big one in 2024.

A total eclipse of the Sun will race across western and northern New York during the late afternoon of April 8, 2024 and locally the Sun will be about 99% eclipsed! It will not be a true crescent but more like a sliver, so why stay here when a trip to nearby Sylvan Beach or Syracuse offers one to two minutes of totality. Or better yet, head to Oswego or Rochester where roughly 3½ minutes of totality can be enjoyed. So, for this one, forget staying here and travel in order to enjoy the greatest celestial event of all, a total eclipse of the Sun!