Friday the 13th solar eclipse visible in Antarctica

A partial solar eclipse, as observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in February 2012.


A solar eclipse is scheduled for Friday the 13th, but most skywatchers will be out of luck without doing a bit of travel.

The truth be told, not many people will see this partial eclipse, thanks to its location: The moon’s shadow will usually fall on the open water of the ocean which lie between Australia and Antarctica — the area where the Indian and Pacific ocean merge. The people who get the chance to see the moon take a small bite out of the sun to live in Australia, in a part of the territory of South Australia and Victoria as well as those who live on the island of Tasmania; watchers in New Zealand, at the southern tip of the South Island and on Stewart Island; and observers are located on a segment of East Antarctica. Hobart, Tasmania, will see about 10 percent of the sun’s diameter obscured, while Melbourne, Australia, sees barely a nick in the sun’s disc, amounting to only 2.5 percent surpassed! (Note that the solar eclipse occurs on Thursday, July 12, EDT, Friday but local time and GMT.)

In fact, the largest eclipse — where only about a third of the sun’s diameter will be eclipsed by the passing new moon — will take place in Antarctica, in the area of Peterson Bank, where an emperor penguin colony exists at this moment (although it is not in the future; the colony’s exact location is constantly changing, by the change of ice conditions). [Eclipse Guide 2018: When, Where And How to See Them]

So, perhaps more penguins than people will witness this eclipse.

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  • Solar eclipse Guide 2018: When, Where And How to See Them

The start of eclipse season #2

We are now in our second eclipse season of 2018. The eclipse seasons are actually less than six months apart, about 19 days, so they continue to fall back that much earlier each year. Last year, periods in which the eclipses can occur fell in February and August of this year, they have shifted to January and February and in July and August. Next year they will have shifted back, so that will come in January and the second in July. Near the end of the year (christmas day), a solar eclipse can squeeze in a third eclipse season.

What is an eclipse season?

It is a span of about a month, in which eclipses are possible on the new and full moon, because the line of the nodes of the moon on the orbit point near enough to the sun. The moon in its orbit is tilted in the direction of the Earth at an angle of slightly more than 5 degrees, and the nodes are the two points where the planes intersect — that is, of the moon goes up or down by the plane that the Earth revolves around the sun is called the ecliptic.

The photo of the moon in its orbit as a currency, held on a slope and in the same direction as it is done all the way around the sun. The earth is in the center of the coin, the nodes are the two points on the coin is the edge that is on the same ecliptic plane as the Earth. When the moon is somewhere else on the rim, it is too high or too low to shadow on the Earth.

The middle of this summer eclipse season coincides with a total eclipse of the moon on the 27th of July, and it is so central (the moon will pass almost straight through the middle of Earth’s shadow) that we can have two “marginal” solar eclipses — the first two weeks before the moon is the one and the other solar eclipse comes two weeks after.

A small shadow zone

It is interesting that the moon is also very close to the Earth during these celestial events; lunar perigee occurs just a little more than 5 hours after new moon. This is actually Friday’s solar eclipse covers a much smaller part of the earth’s surface than would otherwise be the case, since the penumbra of the moon’s shadow (the outer shade), in contrast to the umbra, grows wider, the further it is from the moon. Meanwhile, the moon is the umbra, where the great spectacle of a total eclipse would be seen, goes far beyond the Earth, but will miss the planet by more than one-third of the Earth radius for an observer in the Antarctic waters, in which a portion of the shade is 1,400 miles (2200 kilometres) in the air.

In short, so far as eclipses go, this one is very disappointing.”

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