Wednesday, April 06, 2005

partial solar eclipse will occur on Friday, April 8

Sky-watchers from the South Pacific to the Americas will witness the first solar eclipse of 2005 on Friday when the moon blots out part of the sun. Solar eclipses occur when the Earth, sun and moon line up in such a way that the moon casts a shadow over Earth.

It will be a partial eclipse rather than a total one, in which the Earth is cast into darkness. But it will be the last partial solar eclipse visible from the continental United States until May 20, 2012.

Friday's eclipse will last from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on one's location. In much of the continental United States, people will see what looks like the moon taking a bite out of the sun, with the bite bigger over the South.

In Central America and the northern portion of South America, the sun will be reduced to a narrow ring of fire. Astronomers warned people not to stare directly at the sun without eye protection.

The path of the eclipse will stretch about 14,160 kilometers (8,800 miles) through a corridor beginning near New Zealand and extending across the Americas.

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