Solar Eclipse: Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming Partial Eclipse

On Friday, the Moon will sink in its teeth into the Sun and swallow a chunk of our star in a partial solar eclipse that will glow above part of the southern hemisphere.

Unfortunately for almost everyone on the planet, the solar display will only be visible from a small patch of the globe, mainly covered by ocean. The viewing region stretches from the southernmost sliver of mainland Australia down to the northern coast of Antarctica.

The eclipse will take place in the early afternoon for Australians—that's Thursday night in the U.S.—with different regions catching different moments of the event. If you're lucky to live within the viewing zone, you can find out when your town will catch a glimpse of the eclipse at timeanddate.com.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes through the Moon's shadow. During a total eclipse, the Moon lines up perfectly with the Sun, blocking our view of the star. During a partial eclipse, as you might expect, the Moon blocks out part of the Sun.

"If you are lucky enough to be in one of the locations where it will be visible, you [will] see the new Moon slowly moving over the Sun, cutting out a chunk, like someone took a bite out of it," NASA program scientist Sarah Noble told Newsweek.

The eclipse is the first of three happening in quick succession. There will be a total lunar eclipse on July 27 and another partial solar eclipse on August 11. Unfortunately the mainland U.S. won't be privy to any of these astronomical spectacles. The U.S. won't see another lunar eclipse until next January, and—like July 13th's eclipse—the August solar eclipse will only be visible from a largely unpopulated area.

7_12_Partial Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse graces the sky above Bogota on August 21, 2017. Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

The July 27 blood moon is particularly notable as it will be the longest lunar eclipse of the century. You can find a map of the viewing zone at timeanddate.com. If you won't be able to catch a glimpse in person, you can watch our rocky satellite blush online with live streams from the Virtual Telescope Project and timeanddate.com.

This flurry of eclipses isn't unusual. "Eclipses almost always come in pairs—one lunar, one solar—two weeks apart," Noble said. The lunar eclipse occurs at full Moon and the solar eclipse at new Moon, she added.

About every six months our planet is treated to a "season" of eclipses, with two lunar and one solar, or two solar and one lunar eclipses, occuring just weeks apart, Noble said.

Just like last year's total solar eclipse, its vital to protect your eyes if you're able to watch the July 13 or August 11 eclipses. "Never look directly at the Sun. Use only approved glasses or a pin-hole camera," Noble said. No eye protection is necessary for the upcoming lunar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse: Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming Partial Eclipse | Tech & Science