The cosmos will cast an afternoon delight over the country Thursday with a partial solar eclipse. The moon will cross between the Earth and the sun, making the sun look like a fingernail as it sets in the west. Since the eclipse is partial, the sun will not be completely covered by the moon's disk, but it should still be a dramatic experience as the Earth is cast into shadow.
For us here in the Tennessee Valley, the show will begin at 5:02 p.m. It will reach its height at 5:58 p.m. and will end at sunset, just after 6pm.
If you miss this one, the next solar eclipse over North America will occur in about three years.
That one's expected to more more dramatic, and rarer, total eclipse.
The Space & Rocket Center is hosting a watch party Thursday from 5 - 7 p.m. You can join astronomers in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration parking lot to discuss the phenomenon and observe the solar eclipse through the telescopes. This event is free and open to the public.
NOTE: It's too dangerous to look directly at the sun (can cause pain and eye damage) to view the partial eclipse but there are other ways. If you don't have eye wear with special solar filters then you can always create a pinhole camera.
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