Late this afternoon — Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, — the moon will pass in front of the sun causing a partial solar eclipse.
At maximum eclipse the sun will look like a thick crescent, the dark disk of the moon moving across it.
The eclipse begins at 3:37 p.m. EDT and ends at 7:51 p.m. Here in the eastern United States, the eclipse will reach maximum around the time of sunset: 6:52 p.m. here in the Tampa Bay area.
WARNING: DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN.
As Phil Plait, an astronomer who blogs for Slate writes, "You probably won't do severe or permanent damage to your eyes by glancing at the sun with your eyes alone, but I'd advise against it (especially for younger children, who have clearer lenses in their eyes that let through more damaging UV light) — and certainly against anything longer than a very brief glance. AND DON'T EVER EVER EVER LOOK AT THE SUN THROUGH A TELEPHOTO LENS, BINOCULARS, OR A TELESCOPE without proper filtration, and honestly, unless you really know what you're doing, just don't do it.''
Plait warns that sunglasses are not okay, too. "They can make it worse; they block visible light from the Sun, so the pupil in your eye widens. That can let in more harmful UV and infrared light,'' he writes.
As an added bonus for the eclipse, right now the sun has a ginormous sunspot that is flinging out substantial solar flares.
Plait describes the sunspot like this, "The spot, called Active Region 12192, is a bit hard to wrap your brain around: Its dark core is easily big enough to swallow the Earth whole without it even coming close to touching the sides, and the whole region is several times larger than that, easily more than 100,000 kilometers across. It's the biggest sunspot we've seen this solar cycle.''
Science World reports that "X-class flares are actually the most extreme flares to be found. Like hurricanes, solar flares are classified based on their intensity. The weakest are known as A-class flares, followed by B, then C and then M. The strongest are X-class flares which need to be watched particularly since they pose a risk to astronauts and satellites in orbit when they're aimed directly at Earth.''