A partial annular eclipse appears in the sky over Beijing, China, on May 21, 2012. This is similar to the eclipse that will be visible in the eastern USA on Sunday morning after sunrise.
(Photo: Ng Han Guan, AP)
Sunday may be three days after Halloween, but if you get up early enough, you'll get a special treat:
A partial solar eclipse - one of only two on Earth this year - will be visible in the sky over much of the eastern USA early Sunday morning.
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The eclipse will be seen for only about 30 minutes after sunrise and will appear throughout the entire East Coast where clouds don't obscure it. It will be seen only as far west as eastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and most of Georgia.
Sunrise on Sunday morning will be at roughly 6:30 a.m. or slightly later, so you'll need to get up early to see it. But at least it will seem easier to get up early this Sunday: Remember, daylight saving time will come to an end Sunday morning (officially at 2 a.m.), so be sure to "fall back" an hour before going to bed Saturday night. That will give you at least the opportunity for an extra hour of sleep.
This eclipse will also be a rare "hybrid" eclipse, in which some parts of the Earth see an "annular" eclipse (where the moon does not completely block out the sun), while other parts see a "total" eclipse, when the moon completely covers the sun.
The USA, along with parts of Europe and Africa, will be treated to the "annular" part of the eclipse: The sun will appear as if it has had a big bite taken out of it. Only people in central Africa, in countries such as Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, will get to see the total eclipse of the sun.
The next chance to see a total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be Aug. 21, 2017.
This will be the Earth's final solar eclipse of the year.
Weather conditions will be best for eclipse viewing in the southeastern U.S., where clear skies are expected Sunday morning, according to AccuWeather. Skies will be cloudier in the Mid-Atlantic and along the Northeast coast, while rain and even some snow showers will obstruct the sky in interior sections of the Northeast and New England.
Also, unlike a lunar eclipse, proper eye protection is needed to view this or any solar eclipse, reminds EarthSky.org, which warns that blindness or severe eye injury is possible without protection.
"Use only glasses designed specifically for eclipse viewing or welder's glass No. 14," notes David Dickinson of Universe Today.