How to watch the partial solar eclipse in Michigan

Staff and Wire Reports
Washington Post / The Detroit News

Don't be alarmed if a chunk of the sun is missing as it rises Thursday morning.

A partial solar eclipse is slated to bring a crescent sunrise to more than 75 million Americans. In Canada and other northern latitudes, a rare "ring of fire" solar eclipse will darken skies.

In parts of Michigan, there will be plenty of opportunities to see a partial eclipse, especially for those near Lake Huron or other flat areas with unobstructed views of the horizon.

A partial solar eclipse as seen during sunrise in the coastal town of Gumaca, Quezon province, southeast of Manila on May 21, 2012.

Locally, the eclipse should last for about 35 minutes after sunrise, from around 5:45 a.m. to 6:35 a.m.

The weather should cooperate in most places, too. 

The best chance for a clear view will be in the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula and in the northern Lower Peninsula, said Bryan Tilley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service from White Lake Township. 

The western half of the Upper Peninsula could see clouds that stretch into Wisconsin. Patches of clouds can be expected south of Saginaw Bay, Tilley said. 

"The Detroit metro area will have patches of clouds," he said. "I'm not saying it's going to be completely overcast, but there will be clouds and clear spots in between. It's possible you can catch it in between patches of clouds."

One caveat, Tilley said: Clouds are difficult to predict on the Great Lakes, so conditions could change rapidly.  

Timeanddate.com, which tracks solar and lunar eclipses, says Alpena will have a 78% partial eclipse. Lansing will have a 45% partial eclipse, and Benton Harbor will have a 31% partial eclipse.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon partially or fully blocks the sun.

Learn more.

A unique event

What makes Thursday morning's eclipse special is that it's a sunrise eclipse, presenting dramatic photo opportunities as the eclipsed sun poses over the ocean or as a backdrop for city skylines. As one goes farther north, there will be a deeper eclipse, with more of the sun obscured by the moon.

In Washington, D.C., 55% of the sun will be blocked, with maximum eclipse coming just five minutes after sunrise at 5:42 a.m. Buffalo, N.Y., will see 78% coverage centered right around sunrise.

A coast-to-coast swath of the United States enjoyed a total solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, for the first time since the 1970s. The next total solar eclipse to occur over the Lower 48 will take place April 8, 2024.

For this event, the moon won't appear large enough in the sky to fully cover the sun. This is called an annular eclipse, when the moon becomes fully immersed in the sun and yields a glowing ring of light.

Eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler created this detailed visibility map for the June 10, 2021 annular solar eclipse. Skywatchers in much of central and eastern North America will be able to enjoy this event as a partial solar eclipse; the full “ring of fire” effect will be limited to a narrow slice of land in central and eastern Canada.

With an annular eclipse there is no path of totality. Instead, the ring of fire will be visible in rural parts of Ontario and extreme northern Quebec. A swath of Greenland and Russia will experience this as well, but there are no major cities in the path in those regions.

Tips and tricks

Clouds aren't necessarily a deal breaker. Some photographers welcome them during partial solar eclipses, because if the clouds are thin enough, it filters some of the sun's harmful rays and makes for interesting and visually compelling shots.

It's important to remember that, as this is not a total solar eclipse, eye protection is required the entire time. If you have leftover eclipse glasses from 2017, Thursday offers a great opportunity to put them to use - after inspecting them to ensure they are free of pinholes, scratches or imperfections.

As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to never look at the sun. The next full annular ring of fire eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States on Oct. 14, 2023.