As if this week's spectacular Orionid meteor shower wasn't enough, much or North America will be treated to an amazing partial solar eclipse this Thursday, Oct. 23. Partial solar eclipses result from the passing of a new moon in between the Earth and the Sun, which results in a shadow falling on the day-side of the Earth. Everywhere that falls within that 'shadow' will be able to see the eclipse.
The eclipse will begin for North American viewers who fall within the eclipse shadow beginning in the latter part of Thursday afternoon. The eclipse should be visible in most places within the continental United States. Much of Canada will see the the eclipse, as will Alaska and parts of Mexico. Those in Siberia should also be able to catch a glimpse of the eclipse as it ends on the morning of Friday, Oct. 24, their time.
If you can't make it outside to catch the eclipse, or if you don't own a pair of special glasses to shield your eyes from the Sun's harmful light, you can watch the event online. Both the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at Columbus State University in Georgia and the Slooh Community Observatory will be live-streaming the eclipse, beginning at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.
While the eclipse should begin sometime after 2:14 p.m. PT/5:14 p.m. ET, if you're wondering if and when the eclipse will be viewable in your area, NASA has created a timetable for when the eclipse will start and end for various cities all across the country, and you can view it here.
How to View a Solar Eclipse
Always remember that when viewing a solar eclipse to never stare directly at the sun with the naked eye. If you have special glasses or are viewing the eclipse through a camera with a special filter that is fine, but never look at the sun directly or else you risk serious and permanent damage to your eyes.
If you're interested in viewing the eclipse outdoors but don't have any special equipment, you can make a pinhole projector, which safely projects the image of the eclipse onto a piece of paper or cardboard, and you can look at that projection without fear of damaging your eyes.