Solar eclipses are rare and wondrous events, but every once in awhile one comes along that's a little extra special. That's what's happening on Sunday, November 3rd, when we're treated to a rare hybrid solar eclipse in the daytime sky.
Solar eclipses, of course, happen when the new moon is just in the right position in the sky that it passes directly in front of the sun. Since the moon's orbit is slightly tilted compared to Earth's equator and it goes around the Earth in an ellipse rather than a circle, it doesn't always happen the same way. This gives us different types of solar eclipse — partial, where the moon only covers part of the sun, total, when the moon completely blocks the sun, and annular, when the moon is just far enough away that when it covers the sun it leaves a thin ring of fire around the edges. A hybrid solar eclipse is when, during any particular eclipse, it looks like a total solar eclipse from some places on Earth, while others see it as an annular solar eclipse.
The eclipse is going to be best viewed from the tropical Atlantic Ocean or across central Africa. However, the east coast of North America won't be left out of the show entirely. It will only be a partial solar eclipse, because we're looking at it from the wrong angle, but if you get up early, and head outside just as the sun is rising, you should be able to see it.
This great map, put together by the people at Eclipse-Map.com, shows what you can expect to see, based on your location:
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Remember that if you do go out to watch an eclipse, never look at the sun without some kind of eye protection on. Sunglasses won't do it, no matter what kind they are. There are special glasses you can pick up from science stores that will let you safely view the sun by filtering out the harmful rays (you can see an example here). If you don't have access to the glasses, you can easily make a pinhole camera and project the image of the eclipse onto a sheet of paper or a nearby wall to see it (instructions here).
However, if getting up at the crack of dawn isn't your style, you can always come right back here to watch it. The folks at the Slooh Space Camera will be putting on their usual free live feed, and you can watch it from here:
(Images courtesy: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images, Michael Zeiler/Eclipse-Maps.com)
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