The Curry Coastal Pilot

Overcast skies forecast for Curry County on Sunday may eclipse the solar eclipse that will reach its peak at 6:26 p.m.

The National Weather Service is predicting a mostly cloudy day Sunday, with a slight chance of showers that evening.

However, if the clouds part over the western horizon sometime between 5:08 and 7:35 p.m., viewers will get a glimpse of the first solar eclipse seen from the U.S. mainland in 18 years.

During the eclipse the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating a "ring of fire," not quite as impressive as a total eclipse, but actually more rare. The eclipse will be over by 7:35 p.m.

An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun while the moon is at its apogee, the point in its orbit when it's farthest from Earth, making it appear smaller.

At this visual size, the moon doesn't completely block out the sun andndash; only 94 percent. This leaves "the ring of fire" known as an annulus.

It is not safe to look at this eclipse with the naked eye. That remaining 6 percent of the sun is enough to cause significant eyesight damage, experts said.

Those who purchased solar glasses at locations in Crescent City, before the stores sold out, will be able to safely view the eclipse. There are no stores in Curry County selling the solar glasses.

A few public events are scheduled in Del Norte County. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Redwood National and State Parks will hold solar viewing parties at Point St. George in Crescent City and the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor center in Orick.

The shadow of the eclipse will race across the western United States at 1,000 mph, starting with a stretch from Bandon to just north of Shelter Cove, Calif.

All of Del Norte County and most of Curry County falls into the path of the shadow where one can see the annular solar eclipse.

The western two-thirds of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse. Klamath, Calif., falls directly on the center line of the band of visibility. However, there is not much of difference in what people see within the band.

If you don't get solar glasses, experts recommended punching a hole in a piece of cardboard or paper with a pencil. Hold up the paper with your back toward the sun and shine the light onto a flat surface like concrete. Look at the light that shines through the hole onto the ground. You will slowly see the moon pass across the circle of the light, completely covering all but a ring of light at the peak.

Without the proper filters, cameras could also be damaged by trying to photograph the eclipse.