The partial solar eclipse: How visible was it in Washington state?

The total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 lasted for less than two hours in western Washington. But, in truth, it went virtually unnoticed in the region.

Solar Eclipse
A total solar eclipse dulls the sun’s shine, briefly making day feel like night. Photo courtesy of Pacific Science Center

During the eclipse, beginning at 10:29 a.m. and ending at 12:21 p.m. in the Bellingham area, with its peak at 11:30 a.m., the moon passed in front of the sun, preventing some of its light from reaching earth.

In parts of the Pacific Northwest, the clouds all but obscured any glimpse of the event. Notably, the path of totality — where individuals can witness the moon completely covering the sun, thus causing a total solar eclipse — also happened not to fall within any part of Washington state this time around, making it doubly difficult to observe.

Eclipse painting
“Dionysius the Areopagite Converting the Pagan Philosophers” by 16th-century French artist Antoine Caron depicts a solar eclipse falling over the city as people scramble and some point towards the sky curiously. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The solar eclipse in 2017 occurred as the sun was nearing solar minimum, according to NASA, and its longest period of totality was less than three minutes long near Carbondale, Illinois. When a total solar eclipse occurs, the moon’s size appears to equal the sun’s, and there is a period of darkness during the daytime that lasts several minutes.

Seattle Met magazine describes the magnificence of experiencing the rare astronomical event as such: “Within totality the moon totally blocks the sun and a spooky ring of sun dances around a dark circle. It’s trippy, and has inspired art since ancient times.”

It’s been reported that the next visible total solar eclipse in Greenland and some parts of Canada and the United States will occur two decades from now, in August of 2044.

For more coverage on the eclipse, you can view a recording of NASA’s live stream of this year’s eclipse.

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