Partial Solar Eclipse Will Be Visible Across Much of North America This Week
If the skies seem a little darker on Thursday October 23rd, don't panic. Skywatchers across most of the United States and Canada will get a chance to witness a partial solar eclipse this Thursday when the Moon transits between Earth and the Sun to cover up anything between 40% and 80% of the sun's light. Quite how much of the sun is covered up depends on where you are viewing the event from. Those hardy souls living in the Canadian Arctic will see around 80% of the Sun's face covered up, but for most of us across the continent, that figure will likely be closer to 40%.
This graphic by NASA shows where across the continent the eclipse will be visible from.
While Thursday's event will be seen by most of the country, there are a few spots that will miss out. Places in the far east of the country such as Quebec City, Boston and Montauk in Long Island will see the sun set before the moon starts its transit across the sun. Across the rest of the eastern seaboard, you should be able to catch the eclipse just as the sun is setting, allowing for a somewhat spooky dimming in light levels.
As with any celestial event, if you want to get a decent view you not only have to be in the right place at the right time, you also have to hope that the weather cooperates too. Currently, most of the north east is in the grips of a Nor' Easter, which means those (like us) in New York City are likely to miss out on the show. Out west, clouds and showers may put a damper on viewing parties across much of California, Oregon and Washington. The best viewing conditions can be found across the southwest, from Texas to southern California .
It is important to remind those hoping to witness the partial solar eclipse that looking directly at the sun, even in its eclipsed form can be extremely dangerous. If you're planning on taking in Thursday's event, be sure to take the proper precautions. If you are viewing through binoculars or a telescope, ensure you use a solar filter. If you want to view the event with your own eyes, sunglasses aren't going to cut it. Instead, go online and purchase a special set of 'eclipse glasses' or use a solar filter over your normal sunglasses.
As spectacular as this week's partial eclipse will be, many skywatchers have their sights firmly set on August 21st 2017 when the entire continent will bear witness to a total solar eclipse for the first time in just under 40 years! So if you're concerned about buying equipment for Thursday's partial eclipse, know that you will get another chance to do use it in the near future!