On Thursday, October 23 the moon will be passing in front of the sun resulting in a partial solar eclipse. NASA has announced that weather permitting almost the entire United States will be able to see the eclipse around sunset.
The space agency other than informing the US citizens about the upcoming solar eclipse has also explained the difference between a total and partial solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse takes place when the moon comes in front of the sun directly and covers it completely. A partial eclipse is different; during a partial solar eclipse, the moon becomes off-center when passing in front of the sun, and thus a part of the sun remains uncovered.
According to information provided by Dr Tony Philips of NASA, the eclipse will not be visible in New England and Hawaii; and in places where it will be visible the coverage will range between 12% (in Florida) and around 70% (in Alaska).
As the sun and the moon will most likely be aligning sometime during the day’s end, the luckiest are the ones who stay in the eastern territories of the country; they will be getting a really clear view of the event. Fred Espenak, who is a retired astrophysicist and is associated with NASA as an eclipse expert, said that those who leave in the country’s eastern part will be seeing a blazing crescent going down the horizon; the brightness of the crescent will however be low due to mist and clouds.
Reports suggest that the shadow of the moon will start passing across the Earth around 3.38 pm EDT (Easter Daylight Time). There will be a maximum eclipse at 5.45 pm EDT, and the shadow of the moon will depart to end the eclipse at 7.52 pm EDT.
The representatives of NASA haven’t forgotten to emphasize that it’s not right to stare directly at a solar eclipse; people who stare at an eclipsed sun directly might suffer from severe pain, and eye damage; there are also several instances where looking directly at the sun during an eclipse has made people blind for life. Staring at the eclipse through a telescope or binoculars might also be harmful to your eyes.
The safest way of seeing a solar eclipse is using safety glasses or solar filters. For the eclipse that occurs near sunset, however, using a pinhole will deliver the best and safest result. To make a pinhole, punch a 2 mm wide whole in the center of a piece of cardboard and tape it on any west facing window. You will instantly see an image of the sun on the wall facing the window.