This week is shaping up to be an exceptional one for astronomy. Fresh off the heels of the Orionid meteor shower comes a solar eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23, which will be visible to most residents of North America.
The celestial event will also be visible from the eastern part of Canada as well as eastern New England. Essentially, if you are east of an imaginary line connecting Montauk Point, New York to Quebec City you won't be able to see the eclipse, as the sun will have already set in those regions when it begins.
Siberia will also catch a glimpse of the eclipse on the morning of Friday, Oct. 24. The eclipse will be nearing its end as the sun rises on that region of the world, but locals should still be able to see the moon in front of the rising sun for a while.
The majority of North America will reportedly only be able to see a partial solar eclipse as the moon won't be covering most of the sun in those areas. However, a portion of the Canadian Arctic at M'Clintock Channel will see around four-fifths of the sun obscured by the moon. The channel is a part of the Arctic Ocean in an area between Victoria Island from Prince of Wales Island.
Areas in the upper northern and northwestern regions of North America will see up to 60% of the sun obscured by the moon, while the more southern and western portions of the continent seeing around 40 - 60% of the sun obscured. This means that the darkening of the sky will be less noticeable in those southern and western regions of North America.
Always remember never to look directly at the sun, even during this eclipse. Direct observation of the sun should only be done when viewed through special filters that will reduce the sun's light and allow you to view it safely. Always remember that the sun can still do serious damage to your eyes during an eclipse even though it appears to not be as bright as normal.
If you are in an area where the sun will set before the eclipse is over, you might be able to take some very dramatic photos, provided you have the right equipment. A telephoto lens is necessary in order for pictures to show the dramatic shape of the moon crossing in front of the sun with any great detail. Again, do not view the sun directly without some sort of protection. Even photographic equipment can be damaged by focusing directly on the sun if you don't use the proper filters.
This map will provide you with the appropriate times for viewing the eclipse. Simply find the region in which you live and identify the closest time line to your location. Remember to be safe when viewing, and enjoy the show!