Rare hybrid eclipse graces the sky

CNN
Sunday, November 3, 2013 - 1:10pm

Some skygazers along the East Coast of North America witnessed a spectacular solar eclipse Sunday morning.

The eclipse was visible for a few minutes from parts of North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

NASA said the eclipse would be one of the most interesting solar events of the year, because it was a hybrid annular-total eclipse. That means for part of its path, it was an annular eclipse -- where a thin ring of sunlight is visible around the moon's shadow -- and for another part, it was a total eclipse.

That phenomenon was only visible from a narrow band of the North Atlantic and equatorial Africa, NASA said. In a much broader area, viewers saw a partial eclipse. But photographers in the eastern United States liked what they saw.

Jeff Raybould photographed the eclipse from his apartment in Wilmington, Delaware. "I'm on the 15th floor, and I knew I had a great view of the sunrise, so I set my alarm and crossed my fingers that the clouds would cooperate," he said.

For him, the eclipse lasted only five minutes before the sun ducked behind the clouds. "By that time it was too hard to observe anyway due to the increasing brightness of the sun," he explained. "But I'm glad the clouds cooperated. I've never seen a solar eclipse and just found out yesterday that I would have a prime opportunity this morning."

Military photojournalist Matthew Hecht woke up at 6 a.m. to see the much-anticipated eclipse. An avid follower of space and science news, Hecht set his camera up in front of his home in Absecon, New Jersey, and started taking photographs.

"I pointed the camera and tried not to look through the lens because it was so intense. I was constantly adjusting the camera to make sure I was still pointing at it. I just got lucky," he said about the images he captured.

Despite reports that the eclipse would only last a few minutes, Hecht says he was surprised to see the event last more than 10 minutes. "It was unbelievably vivid. I have never seen an eclipse at sunrise before. It was actually very haunting. It looked like something out of a movie," he said.

Greg Hogan said he only saw the partial eclipse for a few short minutes. Hogan photographed the eclipse during a chance opportunity. He read about the event the night before but forgot about it soon after. When he woke up Sunday morning, he realized the eclipse would be happening in 20 minutes.

He put his 5-year-old son and 6-year-old nephew in his car while they were all still in their pajamas and drove them to the highest point in their town of Bonaire, Georgia, which is an elementary school called Hilltop.

"There were a few other people hanging out there to see the eclipse. It was surprising, but sort of neat," he said. He and his boys watched the eclipse happen over the horizon. "My kids thought it was really cool. They are really into Minecraft -- a video game where you watch the sun rise and set -- and showing them a real life version of that was great," he said. 

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