Partial solar eclipse tomorrow!

There will be a partial solar eclipse tomorrow, November 3rd, visible from Africa, Southern Europe, parts of South America, and the eastern United States.  If you're on the east coast of the U.S., and if skies are clear, you should be able to see the partial eclipse as the sun rises.  Sunrise starts around 6:30 am EST tomorrow.  The eclipse should be visible for about 45 minutes.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth.  The Moon casts a shadow on the Earth, which blocks out part or all of the Sun's light.  Depending on where the Moon is in its orbit, we see different kinds of eclipses.  An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is at its farthest distance from Earth, which means the Moon's shadow is not big enough to cover the entire Sun.  With an annular eclipse, the Sun appears as a bright ring around a dark circle.  In a total eclipse, the Moon's shadow is large enough to cover the Sun. However, for both these cases, if you are not along the path of total eclipse, you'll see a partial eclipse, and the sun will look as though a bite has been taken out of it.  Tomorrow's eclipse is special in that it is a 'hybrid eclipse', or an eclipse that transitions from an annular eclipse to a total eclipse.  These are rare; only about 5% of solar eclipses are hybrid eclipses.

If you're interested in viewing the eclipse, you can check here to see if you are in its path: http://www.space.com/23419-hybrid-solar-eclipse-visibility-images-november-3-2013.html

Remember not to look directly at the Sun without proper protective eyewear (sunglasses are not sufficient). Here are tips for safely viewing the eclipse: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/eclipses/3306081.html

 

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