Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tonight's Sky for October 23: Partial Solar Eclipse

This afternoon, sky watchers all across North America will be treated to a very interesting sight: a partial solar eclipse So, what will you see?

ar eclipses occur when the Sun, Moon, and Earth fall exactly into line in that order. Unfortunately, because the Moon orbits the Earth on a slightly tilted axis, the Moon rarely falls directly into the line but, every now and then, at a point on its orbit called a “node,” the Moon comes directly between the Earth and Sun, thus resulting in an eclipse.
So, what can one expect to see?

Never look at the partially-eclipsed Sun without eclipse shades or a #14 or darker welder's shield

Unfortunately, if you want to see afternoon turn into midnight for a few minutes, you're out of luck as a total solar eclipse will not occur until 2017. See also: complete list of solar eclipses for the United States until 2100. However, what you will see is this: the Moon obscure a part of the solar disc, resulting in a Sun that looks very similar to Pacman.

As for when you can see it, for people on the Eastern Time Zone, the eclipse takes place at sunset with those living in more Western areas having a wider viewing window ranging from late afternoon to sunset.

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