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Watching an annular solar eclipse from the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland

The Chabot Space & Science Center invited the public to its Oakland museum Saturday for an eclipse watch party, opening early and having a telescope trained on the heavens. 

An annular solar eclipse is broadly similar to a total solar eclipse, in the sense that they both describe the phenomenon of the Moon passing between the Sun and the Earth. 

The key difference is distance: in an annular eclipse, the Moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth. As a result, the Moon appears smaller and doesn’t completely cover the Sun, creating the impression of a ring around it. 

The center’s staff was also on-hand to help educate people. 

“The Moon, of course, goes around the Earth every month. And some people ask, ‘well, why don’t we have an eclipse every month if the Moon comes between the Earth and Sun?’ “ said Staff Astronomer Ben Buress. “So you can educate people on the orbit of the moon — either above or below, it misses it.”

Although people in the Bay Area only saw a partial eclipse and the skies were a bit cloudy, people were still excited. 

“We saw as much as we could see from here,” said Alise Derbes. “The sun peeked out at the right times. An awesome experience.”

The next total solar eclipse will be visible from the U.S., Canada and Mexico in April.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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