Solar Eclipse Observing Challenges

Solar Eclipse Observing Challenge Coordinator

Brad Young
212 E. 16th Street
Tulsa, OK 74119
Tel: 918-629-9160


Welcome to the Astronomical League’s Solar Eclipse Observing Program. Completion requires tasks to be performed which will enhance your observing skills and add scientific value to your viewing experience during a solar eclipse.

1. Annular Eclipse of 2023  (deadline for submission:  April 30, 2024)

An annular eclipse of the sun is a magnificent event of the natural world. It allows you to experience the three-dimensional nature of the universe—events occurring in the cosmos can be experienced directly on Earth. During a total eclipse of the Sun, the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are all in perfect alignment. The scale is unimaginable, yet here it is happening right on top of you and around you. Only a total eclipse is more amazing. If the Moon had been a little closer to the Earth or the Earth a little further from the Sun, this time, it would have been total, but instead we are treated to the “Ring of Fire” as the outer edge of the Sun remains visible throughout the event.

After what seems like a moment, the moon continues its journey and the annular eclipse is over, marking the end of the ring. It is then you ask, “When is the next one?”

*** WARNING ***

Before you start any solar observing program, make absolutely certain that you have safe filters and a safe set-up.  Only use filters from reputable sources, and never use a “solar filter” that screws into an eyepiece. As Richard Hill states in Observe and Understand the Sun:  “Observing the sun is the only inherently dangerous observing an amateur astronomer can do. Be aware of this at all times and take all necessary precautions. If you do not know a filter or procedure is safe then do not use it! Always err on the side of safety. An eye once damaged is forever damaged. Filters that let too much INFRARED light through can burn an eye if used visually. There is NO PAIN when this happens. Burned retinas can not be repaired. Excessive ULTRAVIOLET light has been shown to cause cataracts. So be very careful.”

For more information on ways to safely observe the sun, click here.

The Awards

The program offers two levels of accomplishment (certifications):

SILVER – a certificate of completion will be awarded

Successful submittal will require completion of the Annular Eclipse Experiences Checklist

  • Observe the eclipse directly using your eyes or equipment and report the four contact times, and a detailed description of each phase of the eclipse. Remote imaging is allowed.
  • If you cannot travel to the eclipse, observe the partial phase that you can see, and report as much data and description as circumstances allow. In addition, you must use images acquired via the internet and report the timings as seen at that location, along the line of annularity, of all four contacts. The substituted images must be submitted and be from a source that can be verified by the administrator.  The event must be annular at that location (allowing for all four contact points to be reported). This method may also be used if you are clouded out at your location, even if you traveled to view the eclipse.

GOLD – a certificate of completion and pin will be awarded.

Successful submittal will require completion of the silver level award described above and calculation of the Saros period via the process described in “Determining the Saros”. Include with the submittal all moon positions, sketches and images used, and the calculations involved to determine your answer.

Determining the Saros requires a minimum timespan of six (6) months (a longer span is preferred). During that time, a minimum of four (4) moon positions each month, for a minimum of 24 total positions will be needed to accomplish the task. Again, more will lead to greater accuracy. The moon positions can be done before or after the eclipse.

Other Awards

There is also an “I Observed the Eclipse” downloadable certificate available here that may be distributed to anyone attending an observing event.

Requirements and Rules

You do not need to be a member of the Astronomical League to participate in this challenge.

The observer should report all of the following information with submittal:

  1. Location of the observer’s site, including longitude and latitude*
  2. Date and time of the observations (either UT or local time)*
  3. Instrument used with aperture and focal length of the telescope and binocular specifications (or state that naked eyes were used [all with proper filter!])
  4. Eyepiece and magnification as it applies
  5. Filters used (eye protection solar filters are assumed) (Are you looking for “additional” filtering then?) yes like H-a
  6. A detailed description of each phase of the annular eclipse*
  7. Reticle devices used for measuring solar features as it applies
  8. Imaging equipment as it applies

*completion of the required Experiences Checklist will satisfy these requirements

Submitting for Certification

This Observing Challenge has a deadline for submission:  (deadline for submission:  June 30, 2024)

Observers should submit their observing logs and images along with name, mailing address, phone number, email address, club affiliation, and to whom the certification should be sent, to the League’s Solar Eclipse Observing Program Coordinator either by mail or e-mail (preferred). Only copies of your log and images should be sent; originals will not be returned.

Images in electronic format may be forwarded by any convenient means that accomplishes transfer or makes the images available for review. This may include mailing of a storage device such as a CD or a flash drive, or posting the images on the web.

Certificates and pins  will be emailed to the email address provided, either to the observer or to a society officer for presentation at a society event.

It is hoped that this observing challenge will whet your appetite for observing additional eclipses.

2. Stay tuned for the Total Solar Eclipse Challenge in 2024.

Clear Skies!

Brad Young
212 E. 16th Street
Tulsa, OK 74119
Tel: 918-629-9160

Previous Eclipse Challenges

1.  2017 Total Solar Eclipse (deadline for submission:  September 30, 2017) Solar Eclipse 2017 Pin


Recommended Reading

Seeing the Eclipse

General Scientific Guides:

  • The Under-Standing of Eclipses by Guy Ottewell
  • David Levy’s guide to Eclipses, Transits, and Occultations by David Levy
  • Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse by Michael E. Bakich

Observational Recollections and Histories:

  • Eclipse – Voyage to Darkness and Light, David Levy
  • Eclipses, Past and Future, Samuel Jenkins Johnson
  • The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque, Chapter 9
  • Sun Moon Earth by Tyler Nordgren
  • Eclipse – Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon, Frank Close
  • Mask of the Sun – The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses, John Dvorak

Technical Papers and Websites:


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