Vol.1, No.6

Solar eclipse viewing schedule and information

This article gives a brief overview of eclipse terminology, and provides a viewing schedule for solar eclipses for 2005 - 2010.

A partial solar eclipse through clouds
Photo Credit: Stefan Klein
Witnessing a solar eclipse is an amazing and awe inspiring experience. While most people have heard of this astronomical event, there are relatively few opportunities for most people in the world to witness these events as they may only occur once every year and half and are only visible in certain locations on the Earth because of the Earth's curvature. However, if you happen to be in a location that is positioned to view a solar eclipse, then you are in for a rare treat.

WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

There are three types of solar eclipses, a Partial Eclipse, a Total Eclipse, and an Annular Eclipse. As their names suggest, a Partial Eclipse occurs when only part of the Sun is covered by the Moon, and a Total Eclipse occurs when the Moon is able to cover the entire disc of the Sun. An Annular Eclipse is similar to a Total Eclipse, however, the Moon's ability to cover the entire disc of the Sun is reduced because of its position from the Earth. In this instance, the Moon is too far from the Earth to completely block out the Sun, and therefore a thin ring of the Sun is still visible even at the peak of the eclipse.

Other terms that you may hear when eclipses are discussed are Eclipse Magnitude and Hybrid Eclipses. Eclipse Magnitude is the portion of the Sun's diameter that is blocks by the Moon during the eclipse process. Annular Eclipses will always have an eclipse magnitude less than 1.0, while Total Eclipses will always have an eclipse magnitude greater than 1.0. The vantage-point from Earth that an eclipse is viewed from may also affect whether the person sees a Total Eclipse or an Annular Eclipse. When both of these types of eclipses are possible of being seen, then the eclipse event is referred to as a Hybrid Eclipse.

WHERE TO BE AND WHEN TO SEE A SOLAR ECLIPSE

On October 3, 2005 there will be an Annular Eclipse viewable in Europe, Africa, and Asia. It will last approximately 4 minutes and 32 seconds, and should have a magnitude of .958.

On March 29, 2006 there will be a Total Solar Eclipse with a magnitude of 1.052, lasting 4 minuets and 7 seconds. It will be viewable in Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Another Annular Solar Eclipse will occur on September 22, 2006, with a magnitude of .935 and lasting 7 minutes and 9 seconds. You will have the best chance of watching this event if you live in South America, West Africa, or if you are visiting Antarctica.

In the year 2007 there will be two Partial Solar Eclipse, one on March 19 and another on September 11. Asia and Alaska will be able to see the one in March, while people in South America and Antarctica will be able to view the one in September.

In the year 2008 there will be two solar eclipse events. On February 7, there will be an Annular Solar Eclipse that will be visible in Antarctica, Eastern Australia, and in New Zealand. And on August 1 there will be a Total Solar Eclipse that people in Canada, Greenland, Siberia, Mongolia, and China will be able to see.

2009 will also host an Annular and a Total Solar Eclipse. The Annular Eclipse will occur on January 26, and will be visible to people in Southern India, Sumatra, and Borneo, while the Total Solar Eclipse will take place on July 22 and will be visible to people in India, Napal, and China.

On January 15, 2010 there will be an Annular Solar Eclipse that lasts 11 minutes and 8 seconds, and it will be visible in Central Africa, India, Malymar, and China. On July 11 of the same year a Total Eclipse lasting 5 minutes and 20 seconds will be visible in the South Pacific, Easter Island, Chile, and Argentina.



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