Seven years ago today, the east coast was treated to the end of a rare hybrid solar eclipse at sunrise.
There are three types of eclipses:
- total: where the Moon is close enough to the Earth to completely cover the Sun
- annular: when it is far enough away that the Moon does not completely cover the Sun leaving a "ring of fire" or annulus around the Moon
- hybrid: which appear as an annular eclipse along part of the eclipse's path
The Nov. 3, 2013, hybrid eclipse was well underway at sunrise, about 30 minutes past peak. While not as spectacular as a total eclipse, partial eclipses at sunrise or sunset can really show off what the atmosphere does to the sunlight.
There's a lot going on here.
The drippy looking part of the image near the horizon is actually an inferior mirage, as light from the top of the sun is bent creating an inverted image beneath.
Light travels in a straight line through air that is all the same temperature. But as the temperature changes, the path photons of light travel on is bent. A layer of denser, warmer air beyond the horizon likely created these conditions.
That light travels through a lot more air at the horizon, refracting it, causing the "squished" appearance of the Sun and Moon.
The next hybrid solar eclipse will be on April 20, 2023, and will be visible along the western coast of Australia.
The next solar eclipse visible in North Carolina will be on June 10, 2021. That one will also be underway at sunrise.