Final eclipse of year arrives Sunday before sunrise
Posted November 1, 2013
Updated November 2, 2013
On Sunday at sunrise, a rare, hybrid solar eclipse will cast a shadow over a path extending across the Atlantic and Africa. A partial eclipse will be visible from parts of the east coast, and a total eclipse will be visible in Uganda and Kenya.
Skies are forecast to clear in time across central and eastern North Carolina but the hour makes viewing the eclipse tricky.
This is a rare eclipse because it is both an annular and total eclipse – annular, with a ring of fire visible during greatest eclipse, as it starts off the coast of South Carolina; total off the African coast, with the moon fully blocking the disk of the sun, revealing the sun's outer atmosphere. WRAL WeatherCenter Blog
Back in our area, this final eclipse of 2013 will begin more than an hour before before sunrise and be complete by 7:08 am EST. Sunday's sunrise will be at 6:32 am EST in Wilmington, 7 minutes later in Raleigh (Don't forget to change your clocks back.).
Only about 20 minutes of partial eclipse will be visible in the Carolinas. Unless you have a view of the the lower 6 degrees of horizon, you probably won't notice anything different about the rising sun. The beach or a tall building will offer the best chance for viewing. Hold your 3 middle fingers together with your outstretched arm for an idea of what 5 degrees of sky looks like.
If you do find yourself in a good location, remember proper eye protection. Sunglasses aren't enough. A simple "pinhole camera," consisting of a pinhole poked through a thick sheet of paper shown onto a white sheet of paper will safely show the eclipse. Even viewing the shadow created by your fingers overlapped at right angles works.
Most of us have trees or neighbors blocking that lower 6 degrees of horizon where the show will be going on, but we can watch online. The Slooh Community Observatory has sent teams to Africa to live stream the total portion of the eclipse.
Every solar eclipse begins at sunrise somewhere in the world and ends at sunset halfway around the world. We at least get a few minutes of the show.
Mark your calendars for August 21, 2017. A partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout North America with a total eclipse visible from western parts of North Carolina and most of South Carolina.
Tony Rice is a volunteer in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program and software engineer at Cisco Systems. You can follow him on twitter @rtphokie.