BOSTON (CBS) – Early birds get ready! An annular eclipse will be viewable for nearly an hour-and-a-half Thursday morning. You’ll want to get to a spot with a clear view of the horizon, like a beach. The show starts at 5:07 a.m. and will last until 6:32 a.m., peaking at 5:33 a.m.
The moon will pass between the Earth and the sun. It will be near the farthest point from Earth in orbit, so it will appear smaller than the sun. To see what looks like a ring of fire, you’ll have to travel north into Canada, where locations are in the direct path of the eclipse. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include Boston. We will experience a partial eclipse. It will look more like a shark’s fin, as if the moon has taken a bite out of the sun. Looking at it directly can damage your eyes, so there are safe ways to watch it.
“From Boston, you’ll see about 80% of the sun’s diameter covered by the moon, but the part that is still there is too bright to look at safely unless you have a safe solar filter or a welders glasses (that) you may be able to get at a hardware store today, “ said local astronomer Jay Pasachoff.
Pasachoff is the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown. He explained there is a simple way to view the eclipse using a household item.
“Also, you can make what is called a pinhole camera, where you punch a hole in a piece of cardboard, hold it up to the sun, but look away and on the wall; you should see the shape of the eclipse,” Pasachoff said.
Pasachoff will be going to the extreme to get the best view. He will be one of 30 on an early morning chartered flight to cross the border to see the annular solar eclipse.
“We’ll take off at 3:15 in the morning, fly over the border – with permission, of course – and for the main run, the four-and-half minutes of the ring, we’ll be flying in a straight line, from southeast to northwest and see the ring eclipse right out the window, about 3 degrees above the horizon, and then we’ll come back and have breakfast,” he said.
This won’t be the first time he’s seen an eclipse from a plane.
“When I was a freshman at Harvard, there was an eclipse that started right off the coast of Marblehead. We saw a beautiful total eclipse out the window of a plane, and I was hooked,” Pasachoff explained.
Since that first eclipse, he has traveled the World to get the best view of many others that have followed over the decades.
“I have seen 72 solar eclipses – half of them total, the rest annular or partial,” Pasachoff said.
When WBZ asked him if one has stood out more than the others, he said, “Well, always the last one, or always the next one. Each is exciting in their own way. I’m looking forward to my seventy-third solar eclipse tomorrow.”