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A few mornings ago the Moon’s slender C-shape could still be seen before the Sun rose; then it got too slender and too close in the brightening sky, Here is how the east looked to me this morning half an hour before sunrise.
I hurried home to paint this sketch from memory, and I think the sea should be lighter and greener, the upper sky darker and the clouds not so brown (but I didn’t want to paint in gray). The Moon may have been buried in that orange glow, but I wouldn’t have been able to see it even if I’d remembered to try.
Tomorrow, October 23, it will be in front of the Sun. In front of the upper part of the Sun, that is, since this New Moon moment will happen 21 hours after the Moon crosses its “ascending node” – crosses the Sun’s path northward.
The timing is such that Europe will again have moved around into night but most of North America will still be facing the Sun. (The New Moon moment is 22 hours by Universal Time, so 21 (9 PM) by clocks still on British daylight-shifting time, 5 PM in America’s Eastern time zone, 2 PM in the Pacific zone.)
So, if you live in the western states or western Canada, daylight will appreciably dim in the afternoon, and if you look up you will see that it is because the invisible Moon has taken a piece out of the upper edge of the Sun.
If you are farther east, anywhere from the Canadian Arctic islands to the Plains and to Texas and Yucatán, this partial eclipse will happen when the Sun is well down toward the western horizon. Farther east again, from Hudson’s Bay to the Great Lakes to Florida, you’ll be lucky if you see the eclipse just beginning. Yet farther east, in eastern Canada and in New England, the eclipse begins as or after the Sun sets.
Please, if you look at the Sun, look EITHER VERY BRIEFLY OR WITH ONE OF THE TRULY SAFE METHODS. Not, for example, through a piece of exposed film.
The homemade safe method is to let the Sun shine through a pinhole in a sheet of card onto another sheet of card, forming a perfect little image of the Sun’s shape.
Best, however, is to have a piece of Number 14 welder’s glass. This rectangular thing of playing-card size appears entirely black if you look at anything through it other than a blaze of welding sparks or the Sun. If you don’t have this item and can’t acquire it in time, I suggest you acquire it next week anyway. Why? Because you need to have it in 2017, and if you don’t get it soon you may forget.
On 2017 August 21 happens the real spectacle: a total eclipse of the Sun, whose narrow path will cross the U.S., from Oregon in the morning to Kentucky at noon, ending just after noon by traversing South Carolina from Greenville to Charleston. We’ll return for that occasion.