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Solar Eclipse Greets Eastern U.S. Residents Today

November 3, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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Eastern U.S. residents will be treated to a rare celestial event this weekend. Early risers today will get to enjoy a hybrid solar eclipse.

Just as dawn approaches today, the moon will slide between the Earth and the Sun, blocking the sun`s rays for a short time. This hybrid solar eclipse will be visible in many parts of the world, including the Eastern U.S.

The only place on Earth where the sun will be totally obscured by the moon for a few minutes will be in central Africa. Meanwhile, a partial solar eclipse will be visible for residents living along the East Coast, parts of northeast South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and much of northern and southern Africa.

Residents along the East Coast will have to be awake at the stroke of daybreak to view the eclipse and be positioned away from buildings or hills that block the view. It will occur just as the sun is beginning to rise at 6:30 a.m. EST and only last for 45 minutes. Spectators will need to look just above the southeastern horizon where the sunrise occurs. The eclipse will also occur in the morning in South America but the sun will be higher in the sky at midday when the eclipse occurs in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

What will be seen? Half of the sun will be shielded by the moon from Boston to New York and 47-percent of the sun`s rays will get blocked by the moon from Miami to Washington, D.C.

What is the safest way to observe the eclipse? It`s best to build a simple pinhole camera, which is a small light-tight can or box with a black interior and tiny hole in the center of one end. If time doesn`t allow for that, you can purchase special solar filters to place over your eyes or simply look at the shadows filtering onto the ground through leaves on a tree. Observing the solar eclipse without protection or through telescopes and binoculars that don`t have filters can cause permanent damage to your eyes.

The biggest challenge when observing a solar eclipse is having ideal weather. Even though a cold front will continue to move away from the East Coast, clouds and a few sprinkles will likely obscure the solar eclipse from Boston to New York City and along the central Appalachian Spine. The viewing will be a bit better in Washington, D.C, and Baltimore, where partly cloudy skies are expected.

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