WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Partial solar eclipse will be visible Thursday evening

Posted October 22, 2014

An eclipse from November 2013.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible Thursday evening low on the horizon at sunset.

The eclipse begins at 6:00 p.m. for central North Carolina observers, although viewing the events along the East Coast will be a challenge.

Best viewing is further north and west. Observers in Alaska will get the best show (nearly 70 percent of the sun blocked), Florida pretty bad (only 12 percent), and no eclipse will be visible in Boston.

Here in central North Carolina, the moon will begin taking a bite out of the sun at 6:00 p.m. The show will all be over less than 30 minutes later as the sun sets completely behind the western horizon. This begins just 5º above the horizon, or about the width of 3 fingers stretched out in front of you. The better your view of the western horizon, the more you’ll see. If you are on the upper floor of an office building or your car is in a parking garage, this would be a good day to start your commute a little later.

Remember that it is never safe to look directly at a partial solar eclipse, especially this one.  No. 14 welders glass works well. Using a pair of binoculars to project the sun onto a sheet of paper is also safe. Morehead Planetarium handed out hundreds of eclipse glasses during the transit of Venus event in 2012 that are probably sitting in desk drawers around the Triangle. Be sure to check them for scratches or holes before using.

The new moon also occurs Thursday evening, at 5:56 p.m. to be exact. This is no coincidence. Solar eclipses can only occur at new moons (and lunar eclipses only at full moons), which makes perfect sense if you think about it. Solar eclipses are produced as the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun with the sun illuminating the far side out of our view.

If solar eclipses occur only when there is a moon and we have a new moon each month, then why isn’t there an eclipse each month? The answer comes in the moon’s orbit around the Earth which is tilted about 5º from the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

Most months, the shadow cast by the new moon misses the Earth. About every 18 months everything lines up showing a total eclipse somewhere on Earth. That somewhere is highly variable though.

For example, Los Angeles last saw a total eclipse in 1724 and won't see another until 3290. We only have to wait 2 years, 9 months, 29 days for the total eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, where totality will be visible not far from our area.


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  • moomoo Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You keep welders glasses in your vehicle?-Me too--amazing--lol

  • lsdhome Oct 23, 2014

    A marine sextant with appropriate sun filters will do a great job for viewers!

  • John Murphy Oct 23, 2014
    user avatar

    So we need No. 14 welders glass to view. Good thing I keep a pair in my glove compartment for just this reason. As suggested I will postpone my commute and stay in the top of the parking garage and check it out.

  • PracticalMagick Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It's tonight. :)

  • busyb97 Oct 23, 2014

    Did anyone see anything? We were out looking for about 10 minutes and couldn't see any evidence with our pinhole viewer. We finally got cold and went inside (the wind was cold right about then, and we were up on a hill away from the house). I guess we'll have to catch the next one in 2 years 9 months.

  • USMC Vet Oct 22, 2014

    View quoted thread



    "Here comes Santa Claus,
    here comes Santa Claus,
    Right down Santa Claus lane"

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • USMC Vet Oct 22, 2014

    The last one, though every early in the morning, was interesting enough to wake up for.
    Thanks to this station for keeping us up-do-date on these things.
    We really enjoy seeing them.

  • SomewhereLeftOfRTP Oct 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Exactly. The Moon will be too far north for a total eclipse, so we'll see it blocking the north limb of the sun -- the right edge, as the sun sets in the west.

  • Mannin Black Oct 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Source please.

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 22, 2014

    "Here in central North Carolina, the moon will begin taking a bite out of the sun at 6:00 p.m" - article

    Kind of like the article picture, except the "bite" will be on the right side, instead of the bottom.