A rare hybrid solar eclipse is scheduled to happen on Sunday. It is called a hybrid because it is basically a combination of two different eclipses people are accustomed to. It will begin as an annular eclipse. That is the one which has the amazing “ring of fire” about the sun. Then it shall morph into an entire solar eclipse, where the sun will be completely blocked for a short period of time as the moon’s shadow sweeps down over the Earth.
In the United States, on the East Coast, the greatest chance of getting to see the hybrid solar eclipse will be at around 6:30 a.m. EST. Individuals close to the New York and Boston areas should anticipate seeing the moon hiding over half the sun. This is equal to more than 50 percent being covered by the Earth’s own satellite, so if one does reside in or near eastern North America, he or she will have to arise pretty early Sunday morning in order to get to delight in the show. The partial eclipse should be visible at sunrise and last for around 45 minutes or so.
Meanwhile the sun will appear to be about 45 percent obscured from Miami up to Washington, D.C. That is what will be happening as one travels farther south. It will appear that a slighter part of sun will be concealed. But the eclipse should be visible, at least somewhat, all the way from eastern North America to the Middle East.
Sky observers in southern Europe, northeastern South America, the majority of Africa and Middle East will get to see a partial solar eclipse, whereas people that live near the trail of totality in central Africa will be able to see the sun become completely hidden by the Earth’s closest neighbor for a few intense minutes.
Events such as hybrid solar eclipses are extremely uncommon. Out of the 11,898 solar eclipses that have been recorded and foretold between 1999 B.C. and 3000 A.D., just under 5 percent were considered to be hybrids, according to the science magazine Universe Today.
All of this excitement in that region of the Earth will be happening low in the sky, at less than 8 degrees from the southeast-east horizon. If a person wants to measure such distance, a fist stuck out at arm’s length shows around 10 degrees. So to see the event, one will have to find an area that gives a nice look toward the horizon and does not have any type of hill or building blocking out the viewing scene.
Meanwhile, the path of totality begins in the Atlantic Ocean from the eastern United States and goes through Gabon, the Republic of Congo and numerous other African nations before it spreads out into Somalia and Ethiopia about sunset.
Heed this word of warning: Always remember to wear eye protection when viewing an eclipse, even when it is a hybrid such as this one. Regular sunglasses are not good enough, and a person can damage his or her eyes permanently if they do so.
To view the hybrid eclipse safely, one can make a simple pinhole camera, or even look at the shadows made that are filtered on the ground from tree leaves. Spaces that are between leaves often make numerous natural pinholes. Eye safety is of utmost importance through all solar eclipses, even with this rare hybrid that is scheduled for Sunday.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble
The Weather Channel