The slow dimming of the sun Monday morning was as unusual as it was expected for many who gathered outside in Redmond to witness a solar eclipse as it worked its way across the country.
As the natural light began to wane more than 30 minutes before the eclipse, the temperature dropped slightly across the city and groups of people in Marymoor Park grabbed their eclipse glasses and viewing devices.
The eclipse, which is where the moon moves between the sun and the Earth, was only partial in Redmond, but the path of totality, where the entire sun is covered by the moon, crossed central Oregon.
As the eclipse reached its zenith in Redmond, with around 92 percent coverage, families, kids and professionals alike stopped to stare through darkened glasses or cardboard boxes converted into eclipse viewers.
Monday’s total eclipse marked the first one that could be viewed in the continental United States since Feb. 26, 1979, according to the NASA website. The next will happen in 2024.
The partial eclipse hit its zenith locally at 10:21 a.m.
While the moon is roughly 400 times smaller than the sun, the sun is around 400 times farther away from Earth than the moon. This allows the moon to effectively block out the sun for a couple minutes during an eclipse.
However, the moon’s orbit is slightly unstable, and the body moves around 1.5 inches farther away from Earth each year. Once it has moved an additional 14,600 miles away, it will appear too small from Earth to cover the sun’s disk.
Luckily for eclipse enthusiasts, this won’t happen for another 600 million years, the NASA website said.
Monday’s total eclipse where it was visible lasted for just under three minutes, but the longest projected eclipse will span nearly eight minutes and will occur on July 16, 2186 as it moves its way across Columbia, Venezuela and Guyana.
According to the NASA website, there are roughly two total solar eclipses somewhere in the world every three years on average.