While space junkies have been ravenous this past summer with all the stellar lunar events in the sky, from the super moon trilogy to the blood moon earlier this month, experts at NASA are excited this week about a more solar-centric event. Predicted to occur this Thursday, Oct. 23, the off-center new moon will pass in front of the sun creating a partial solar eclipse seen across the United States.
“Observers in the Central Time zone have the best view because the eclipse is in its maximum phase at sunset” NASA eclipse expert, Fred Espenak says. The partial eclipse will begin at 1:34pm PST this Thursday, when the moon begins to move across the face of the sun, but will continue through until 4:18pm approximately two hours before sunset. At its maximum at 2:59pm, the eclipse will cover nearly 52 percent of the sun’s face just overhead to the west.
Though the eclipse will only be partial, lasting for hours, experts warn that similar precautions be taken same as with a total solar eclipse. Staring into the eclipse, which will still allow nearly half of the sun’s intense UV and light waves to pass through, can cause pain, permanent eye damage and even temporary or permanent blindness depending on the exposure of the light. In fact, Espenak warns that partial eclipses may even be worse than total solar eclipses in that they undermine your natural reaction to avoid looking directly into the sun, making you more likely to stare directly into the eclipse of a prolonged period of time. Researchers, like those at NASA and National Geographic, are providing complimentary instructions on how to build a viewer to safely view the partial eclipse.