In just two days, a rare hybrid solar eclipse will transfix viewers in Australia, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. It’s a rare occasion, even for solar eclipses: During the 21st century, just 3.1 percent of solar eclipses will be hybrid—the last one occurred in 2013, the next one will be in 2031, and then you’ll have to wait until 2164 to spot this rare phenomenon.
What makes hybrid eclipses so special is that they appear differently based on a person’s location. In parts of the eclipse’s path, viewers will see an annular eclipse, in which the moon does not completely block the sun, creating a “ring of fire” effect in the sky.
Still others, however, will experience a total eclipse this week, in which the moon completely blocks out the sun, plunging areas into darkness in the middle of the morning. The reason for this duality is that Earth’s natural curvature places some geographic locations in the darkest part of the moon’s shadow, while other regions will merely be covered by the edges of this shadow.
It is almost never safe to look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse—and that includes through binoculars, a telescope, and a camera lens, according to NASA. Instead, there are specific glasses, filters, and solar viewers that you can buy to protect your eyes. You can also make an eclipse projector or use an index card with a hole punched in it to project an image of the sun onto a nearby surface.
For those living Down Under and anyone else in the path of the eclipse, it will start at 21:36 p.m. Eastern Time on April 19, ending the following day at 2:59 a.m. Eastern . An area between Auckland, New Zealand, and the south of Vietnam will be treated to at least a partial eclipse. Residents of the Southeast Asian nation of East Timor may be able to catch a complete eclipse for over a minute. Aussies will only catch a partial eclipse, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping them: Benji Metha, an astronomer at the University of Melbourne, told Popular Science, “We are going to get coffee and freak out about the sky. It’s going to be fun.”
If you’re not in the eclipse’s path, Western Australia’s Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory will be livestreaming the eclipse beginning in the evening for East Coast-ers—no eclipse glasses necessary. Just be prepared to stay up!