Skies to Darken from Partial Solar Eclipse

By Lura Jackson 

While the “Great American Eclipse” won’t provide viewers in Washington County, Maine, with a total blackout of the sun as it will in other areas of the country, residents can still expect to see a partial eclipse in the afternoon of Monday, August 21st. 

“We will see a partial eclipse, and first contact will be about 1:35 p.m and last until about 3:50 p.m,” stated local astronomer Charlie Sawyer. According to Sawyer, the maximum eclipse or peak viewing time will be around 2:45 to 2:48. “The moon will cover about 62 percent of the sun,” Sawyer provided. 

During an eclipse, the moon moves in front of the sun and casts a shadow on the Earth below it. Those who are underneath the direct shadow (or “umbra”) of the moon will see a total eclipse – though for this year’s event, the only ones who will see the total eclipse will be in a path extending along the southeastern and northwestern United States. All other viewers will see only a partial eclipse due to being in the indirect shadow or “penumbra”. 

If you miss this year’s eclipse, or if you’re incredibly inclined to try to see a rare total solar eclipse – which will enable its viewers to see planets and stars aligned in constellations not typically witnessed during their particular time of year – you won’t have to wait too long. There will be a total solar eclipse affecting Maine on April 8th, 2024. Though Washington County will still be in the penumbra, it’s only a short trip to Aroostook County, which will be fully in the umbra of the passing moon. 

 

If you’d like to be in the company of others for this month’s event, there will be an eclipse party in Machias at Middle River Park from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Solar telescopes and special viewing glasses will be available for attendees to utilize.