ESA: Thanks to a quirk of our cosmos, the Moon’s average distance from Earth is just right for it to appear as the same size in the sky as the significantly larger Sun. Once in a while the Moon slides directly between Earth and the Sun such that it appears to cover our star completely, temporarily blocking out its light and creating a total solar eclipse for those along the narrow path cast by the Moon’s shadow.
But sometimes the alignment is such that the Moon only partially covers the Sun’s disc. Such a partial eclipse occurred on Saturday for observers located primarily in northern and eastern Europe, northern parts of North America, and some northern locations in Asia.
ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 satellite orbits Earth about 14.5 times per day and with its constant change in viewing angle, it dipped in and out of the Moon’s shadow twice during Saturday’s eclipse.
Selected views of the two partial eclipses are seen side-by-side here – the first (left) was captured at 08:40:12 GMT and the second (right) at 10:32:17 GMT on 11 August.
The images were taken by the satellite’s SWAP camera, which works at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to capture the Sun’s hot turbulent atmosphere – the corona – at temperatures of about a million degrees, which can be seen in the background.
Today we have the second total lunar eclipse of 2018, the first being on 31 January. This eclipse has a couple of special distinctions.
The Earth-Moon configuration this time of year is such that the Moon is very near apogee (occurring at 05:43 UTC today. The close proximity of the Moon means this eclipse will last a long time, 103 minutes to be exact, the longest eclipse of the 21st Century.
The Moon will pass through the center of the shadow, known as a central lunar eclipse. Despite what one would think, the central eclipse does not happen every time, the last time we had one was in June 2011.
And finally not that this means anything (despite some wild claims otherwise) Mars will also be at what is called “perihelic opposition”, this is when Mars is at opposition and is at its closest point to the Sun. The two events only occur together every 25,000 years.
This eclipse will be best viewed from the Middle East, Eastern Africa and India, regions outside this can still see parts of the eclipse:
Image by PIRULITON – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30448426
ESA put out a nice little video explaining an eclipse:
The eclipse starts at 17:14 UTC and reaches totality at 20:21 UTC and ends at 23:28 UTC.
So if you can please go out and enjoy the eclipse!
I am amazed at the eclipse coverage! There is no doubt by far that this was the most observed eclipse in North American history, maybe the world. Just incredible, even the US television news-entertainment stations covered it.
I did want to share a couple more things about the eclipse before kind of giving it a rest,
First a look at the moon’s shadow as seen from the new GOES-16 satellite in this sort video:
Second, the image above was taken by Mark Rosengarten in Madras Oregon and posted on spaceweather.com shows the corona beautifully. I looked at a weather station in Eugene Oregon (WUnderground – KOREUGEN63)reporting solar radiation and took a screen shot of the solar radiation at the time the image above was taken.
I clipped out the scale information, it is reported in watts per square meter (w/m2).
Lastly, I saw no difference in ham radio band conditions. We are going through a small rise in sunspot activity but nothing special so any changes would be difficult to be objectively certain about. The next eclipse here should prove differently. The next eclipse is on 08 April 2024 and the solar sunspot cycle will be on the rise improving HF radio conditions substantially.
I had fun trying to get pictures of the eclipse. I decided not to use any of my telescopes, the 250 mm scope would have a much too small of a field of view to be of any use, the 80 mm scope would have been perfect if I was able to locate my solar filter.
So I ended up holding up one of the large filters I have and taking pictures with a Nikon Coolpix 830. Worst camera ever. Well maybe not ever, it does take decent daytime pictures for the most part. No viewfinder and the lack of manual control makes it pretty much useless for anything like what I want to use it for though.
After a few attempts and getting more than a few curious looks from passing traffic, I managed to get a few shots. I was a good deal north of the path of totality and this image was taken at the maximum eclipse I saw.
I want to fiddle around with some of the images to pull some color out if I can.
The other part of an eclipse I always notice but one hardly hears anything about is the color of the ambient light during the eclipse, it is different somehow. It’s like sunset without the long shadows.
After the eclipse was over I located that little filter too. It was right in the cabinet like it is supposed to be. It apparently was jostled and was under a different box of goodies.
Come on 2024, eclipse number 6 and my third total!!
The eclipse of 2017 is just a few days away and now I am going to be able to see part of it — weather permitting. I’ll be well north of the line of totality but still will get to see a bite out of the sun. I am so pleased, I’ve seen four solar eclipses of varying degrees, two of them were total and they are just fantastic!
If you are located in the US or parts of Canada, I hope you have good weather!
What if you don’t have glasses? Do not look at the directly without proper eye wear! Fortunately those cardboard glasses are easy to get, I think even some of the public libraries will have some (they are for sure where I will be). Still you could be stuck with no glasses, like construction workers for example, well there is still a simple way to see what is going on. I’ve done this myself with success:
If you get to see the eclipse and can view it safely you will be treated to Bailey’s beads and The diamond ring effect. Here is a great look at them from the 2012 Australian Eclipse in a a video posted by William Hetzel:
On 21 August 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse stretching the breadth of the United States. There’s quite a bit of “doom and gloom” talk out there, a lot of it is baloney. What is very real is the danger from incorrectly observing the eclipse.
The video is all about how to watch the eclipse safely. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few solar eclipses both partial and total varieties and it is a fantastic experience and quite safe when done correctly.
You will not have to sit in your house with all the curtain’s drawn for the duration of the event for safety’s sake — and YES, that’s a real thing I know someone who does this!
An update on my Perseid watching; it was a bust, clouds.