On Sunday, Nov. 3, an annular solar eclipse that changes into a total solar eclipse — called a hybrid eclipse — will be visible on the eastern coast in North America to parts of Africa and the Middle East.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. When the three line up just right, a portion or all of the sun’s light gets blocked by the moon’s shadow striking Earth at the same time.
During a total solar eclipse, the moon’s dark inner shadow — known as the umbral shadow — strikes Earth’s surface and blocks out all of the sun’s light in that region. But not all eclipses of the sun are total eclipses. The moon’s orbit around Earth also influences what kind of eclipse we see.
In an annular solar eclipse, the moon crosses the sun at its farthest distance from Earth, meaning that from our perspective, the moon isn’t big enough to cover the sun completely. “Looking down from space, we would see that the Moon’s umbral shadow is not long enough to reach Earth,” writes Fed Espenak of MrEclipse.com.
As a result, the sun appears as a bright ring surrounding the moon. The last annular solar eclipse that was visible in the United States occurred in May 2012.
A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when an annular solar eclipse shifts into a total solar eclipse along different points of the eclipse path. These are very rare. According to Universe Today: “Of the 11,898 solar eclipses listed over a 5,000 year span from 1999 BC to 3000 AD in Fred Espenak’s Five Millennium Catalogue of Solar Eclipses, only 569, or 4.8% are hybrids.”
Space.com explains what regions will see either the partial or total eclipse:
Skywatchers in the eastern United States, northeastern South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and most of Africa will be treated to a partial solar eclipse, while people along the path of totality in central Africa will see the sun totally obscured by Earth’s nearest neighbour for a few dramatic moments.
If you live in eastern North America, you’ll have to get up early to enjoy the show. The partial eclipse will be visible at sunrise — about 6:30 a.m. local time — and last for about 45 minutes, experts say. Viewers in Boston and New York will see the sun more than 50 per cent covered by the moon, while our star will appear 47 per cent obscured from Miami and Washington, D.C.
Remember that all solar eclipses can damage your eyes. You should never look directly at the sun during an eclipse without a telescope filter or protective eyewear. (Sunglasses won’t work).
SLOOH will be live broadcasting the total solar eclipse online from a remote region in Kenya. The live feed, embedded below, starts at 6:45 a.m. EST and ends at 10:15 a.m on Nov. 3. (Don’t forget daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning and our clocks will bump back one hour).
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