This weekend marks an extraordinary solar event, the rare sunrise solar eclipse. Even more rare, it is a "hybrid" eclipse. And still more rare an annular eclipse -- where the moon darkens the sun just enough to form a "ring of fire" -- that graduates to a total eclipse of the sun (as opposed to the more common hybrid eclipse where the stages are annular-to-total-to-annular). And if you're up at sunrise on Nov. 3, you can watch the solar eclipse (although only a very few will get to witness the rare annular-to-total eclipse due to the observer's position on Earth relative to the sun).
As Space.com reported (via Yahoo News) Nov. 2, most who see the solar eclipse will see a hybrid eclipse; that is, they will see a partial occlusion or eclipse of the sun by the moon. Those up at sunrise on the East Coast of the United States will see anywhere from 50 percent to 70 percent of the sun darkened by an eclipsing moon.
However, to see the actual total eclipse, one would have to be stationed on a ship or plane about 204 miles southwest of Monrovia, Liberia. The total eclipse will last for one minute and eight seconds.
There will also be a "diamond necklace" effect. If one were to be 405 miles southwest of Bermuda, one could witness the near full occlusion of the sun by the moon. But since only about 90 percent of the sun is blocked by the moon, the moon's irregular surface features -- mountains, craters, etc. -- allow pieces of the sun to shine through, like a glowing "diamond necklace."
Still, the hybrid eclipse occurs every few years, making it a somewhat rare occurrence. The last hybrid solar eclipse occurred in April 2005. The next won't happen until 2023.
But the hybrid eclipse on Nov. 3, the annular-to-total solar eclipse, is an even rarer type of occlusion, occurring roughly every 159 years. The last time a solar eclipse started annular and ended in totality, on Nov. 20, 1854, Franklin Pierce was the President of the United States. There won't be another like it until Oct. 17, 2172.
For those wishing to see the hybrid solar eclipse on the East Coast of the U. S., sunrise will take place at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3. You will be able to watch the solar eclipse unfold shortly thereafter.
For those looking for detailed maps of the path of the solar eclipse, they can be found at Eclipse-maps.com.
For those wanting to watch the solar eclipse but are in areas around the planet where it is primarily not visible or the view of the sun is blocked by cloud cover (or by the landscape, because the eclipse will occur at sunrise), the phenomenon can be seen online via the Slooh Space Camera at their website. They begin tracking the solar eclipse at 6:45 a.m. EST.