UNA Pressroom

Oct. 14 Solar Eclipse Visible Locally; UNA Planetarium Welcoming Guests to View

Oct. 06, 2023

Michelle R. Eubanks , UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256.765.4392

FLORENCE, AL – On Oct. 14, an annular eclipse of the sun will be visible along a path that runs through the southwestern United States. The University of North Alabama Planetarium will have programs about the eclipse on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m., at 5 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 13, and, weather permitted, will have an eclipse viewing on the day of the eclipse with solar projectors, telescopes, and eclipse glasses from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

“An annular eclipse takes place when the moon is a little further away from the Earth than average so that it is smaller in the sky and does not completely cover the sun,” said Dr. Mel Blake, the associate professor of physics and astronomy and director of the UNA Planetarium. “The result is that there remains a ring of the sun not covered by the moon. This is why the annular eclipses are sometimes called a ‘ring of fire.’ The southwestern United States is favored for this eclipse and will see the ring of fire.” 

Most of the country will see a partial solar eclipse of varying amounts depending on how far from the eclipse path that you happen to be located. Florence will experience 66 percent of the sun blocked by the moon at maximum eclipse. The eclipse will begin at 10:36 a.m., reach maximum eclipse at about 12:05 p.m., and end at approximately 1:38 p.m.

NASA has provided the graph below to indicate viewing times and eclipse percentages. 


Eclipse Begins


Maximum Eclipse


Eclipse Ends





10:36 am

12:05 pm

1:38 pm



10:36 am

12:07 pm

1:40 pm



10:38 am

12:08 pm

1:42 pm



10:37 am

12:07 pm

1:42 pm



10:39 am

12:10 pm

1:46 pm



10:37 am

12:10 pm

1:47 pm


Solar eclipses occur because of the coincidence that both the moon and the sun are about one half degree of the sky. The sun is physically much bigger than the moon but also much farther away. To get an idea of how big a half degree is, hold your hand out with your thumb up; your thumb will make just over half a degree. Because they both, on average, appear the same size, the moon can block out the light of the sun, causing an eclipse. 

This happens at new moon, when the sun and moon are both in the same direction in the sky. The moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted about five degrees to the orbit of the Earth around the sun, so, most of the time, the moon’s shadow misses the Earth. When the geometry is just right, we see a total eclipse. Total eclipses are rare from any one location, with sometimes 300 or more years between eclipses. Since they were so rare and dramatic, they were often seen as signs of doom. 

The easiest way to view the eclipse is to take a piece of cardboard and cut a hole in it; then take a piece of aluminum foil over it. Take a needle and put a little hole in it. The pinhole will show the shape of the eclipse on the ground or a piece of paper. You can also use eclipse glasses, which are designed for viewing the sun.


About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/