A rare "hybrid" solar eclipse will take place this morning starting at sunrise and will be visible as a partial eclipse in Eastern Canada.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and casts its shadow on the Earth.
A hybrid eclipse is an unusual eclipse that morphs between a total eclipse — in which the moon completely covers the sun — and an annular eclipse, in which a brilliant halo of sunlight is still visible around the moon. The moon's apparent change in size is caused by the fact that its orbit around the Earth is elliptical, and it appears bigger when it is closer to the Earth.
'Even more unique'
Typically, a hybrid eclipse starts and ends as an annular eclipse but appears as a total eclipse in the middle.
However, today's eclipse is "even more unique," reports NASA, because it starts as an annular eclipse and ends as a total eclipse.
The eclipse will only be visible as annular or total along a narrow part of the path of the moon's shadow, and West Africa will get the best view.
In many other parts of the world, including Eastern Canada, it will appear as a partial eclipse, in which only part of the sun is covered by the moon.
"We're just going to see a little chunk taken out of the sun," said Colin Haig, vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in an interview Friday. "Maybe 25 per cent of sun will be nicked out by the moon, like a piece of pie where somebody took a big bite out of it."
The eclipse will only be visible about as far west as London, Ont., and for most of Eastern Canada, it will be well underway at sunrise.
The one exception is in eastern Newfoundland, which will get the longest view.
Haig recommends that Canadians wishing to see the eclipse choose a vantage point with a clear view of the eastern horizon and look to the sky "as soon as you see the glow of the sun" before dawn.
According to predictions by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada:
- In Toronto, the eclipse will peak at 6:58 a.m. and end at 7:11 a.m.
- In Ottawa, it will peak at 6:47 a.m. and end at 7:12 a.m.
- In Montreal, it will peak at 6:35 a.m. and end at 7:12 a.m.
- In Halifax, it will peak at 7:16 a.m. and end at 8:15 a.m.
- In St. John's, it will start at 7:02 a.m., peak at 7:42 a.m. and end at 8:49 a.m.
Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can harm your eyesight and isn't recommended. Instead, eclipses can be viewed:
- By projecting an image of the sun onto a piece of paper through a lens such as a telescope or a pinhole in a piece of cardboard
- Through welder’s goggles using Number 14 glass or higher or other special filters designed to protect the eyes from the sun's light.
Total eclipse streamed online
While Canadians will not be able to see the event as an annular or total eclipse directly, the eclipse will be streamed online by Slooh, an organization that has been connecting ground-based telescopes to the internet for public access since 2003.
Slooh will be streaming the event, along with commentary from astronomers, from Kenya, Gabon and the Canary Islands between 6:45 a.m. ET and 10:15 a.m. ET.
According to NASA, the greatest eclipse will take place about 330 kilometres southwest of Liberia at 12:47 UT (same as local time), lasting one minute and 39 seconds. It will get shorter as it moves west, last just one second during its final minutes in Somalia.