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Partial Solar Eclipse Happening This Week

Oct 20, 2014 11:40 AM EDT

A solar eclipse is happening later this week, and North Americans will have the best seats in the house for this stunning show.

The eclipse, which will occur Thursday evening, Oct. 23, will only be a partial one, but that doesn't mean it won't be impressive. Beginning around 5:51 pm Eastern Time, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun at its greatest eclipse by 6:08 pm, with more than half the Sun blocked from view at one time. (Scroll to read on...)

[Credit: INOVE Solar System Scope / data via NASA]

Partial solar eclipses are a bit different and can happen more often than an annual solar eclipse - which traditionally leave a thin halo of light circling a darkly silhouetted moon. The angle of this phenomenon unfortunately means that only people in North America will be able to see it occur. For the rest of the globe, the setting Sun will remain unchanged.

Still, even partially covered, the Sun's harmful rays are dangerous to look at directly. To avoid eye injury, you can make your own pinhole projector.

What to do: You will need a long cardboard box or tube (i.e. a shipping box), some scissors, duct tape, foil, a thumbtack, a box cutter, and a sheet of white paper.

Now, cut a rectangular hole on one end of the box using your cutter. Use the scissors to cut an equally rectangular piece of the aluminum foil. Make sure this is not crinkled. Tape the foil over the rectangular hole you just made in the box. Use the tac to poke a hole in the center of the foil. Then tape the sheet of paper at the other end of the box; this will serve as your "screen." (Scroll to read on...)

Still, if you don't want to weird your neighbors out by standing in the front yard with your head buried in a box, you can simply purchase filtered eyewear intended for viewing the Sun.

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