Rare Daylight Saving Time switch: An extra sleep hour with side of 'hybrid' eclipse

A hybrid solar eclipse will conspire with the exodus of Daylight Saving Time to let well-rested Americans catch a rare astronomical delight – if they don’t sleep through it.

Brian Snyder/REUTERS
Scott Gow cleans the faces of wall clocks being tested at the Electric Time Company in Medfield, Massachusetts on Friday. Daylight Saving Time in most of the United States ends at 2:00 a.m. local time on November 3.

After getting a rare extra hour of sleep, Americans along the Eastern Seaboard will get a second treat Sunday morning: a rare hybrid solar eclipse pasted on a big ol’ rising sun.

That extra summer evening hour ends Saturday as standard time returns, slipping instead a single extra hour into Sunday for those who set their clocks back before they go to sleep. Daylight saving time then returns March 9, 2014.

When the sun subsequently rises on the East Coast, a horizon-enlarged sun will have a neat slice pumpkin-carved out of it as part of a peculiar kind of hybrid eclipse seen for the first time since 2005. Americans who live anywhere west of Atlanta, however, are out of luck, at least as far as the eclipse goes.

The unique event combines elements of an annular and total solar eclipse, depending largely where upon the earth an observer is observing. Indeed, other parts of the world, including sections of Africa, will see a full, though quick complete solar eclipse.

“At the point in the North Atlantic where the Moon's umbral shadow begins its dash across Earth, about 600 miles (1,000 km) east of Jacksonville, Florida, an extremely well-placed observer would get to see a vestigial ring of Sun surrounding the Moon's silhouette for a few fleeting seconds just after sunrise,” writes Kelly Beatty, for Cambridge, Mass.-based Sky & Telescope magazine.

For those not so extremely well-placed, the sun will feature a partial eclipse right at the 6:20 sunrise, and watchers will see the last nick of moon shadow exit the sun’s face at 7:12 a.m. Cool map here:

Clear skies are likely across the viewing area on Sunday. After the eclipse, it will be time to make the final circadian rhythm adjustments as the northern hemisphere glides steadily into the ever-shorter and ever-darker days of winter.

How the switch back to standard time compounds the darker days of winter has long been at the tip of an argument against Daylight Saving Time, an idea which Benjamin Franklin first posited as a gambit to save money on lamp oil by extending daylight an hour deeper into the evening.

“The time shift will be compounded by shorter day lengths. That might seem like a double whammy, but it is standard time, after all, which is natural, unlike DST, which I prefer but nonetheless is an altered reality,” writes Newsday blogger Jessica Damiano.

In 2005, Congress extended Daylight Saving Time by nearly a month, a decision that, now in 2013, places the switch neatly on top of the last solar eclipse we’ll see until 2017.

Some eclipse-hunters aren’t about to let the moment slip away. Mr. Beatty at Sky & Telescope reports that he’ll be on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya, where he hopes to “be rewarded with astounding views of Baily's beads and long crimson arcs of the Sun's chromosphere.”

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