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April 2014 Annular solar Eclipse April 27, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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In general, the Moon and the Sun have about the same angular size (ie they both cover the same amount of sky.) However, the Moon is very close, and its orbit is elliptical orbit, so its size changes slightly, glowing a tiny bit larger when it is close, and a tiny bit smaller when farther away. Most of the time, that change in size isn’t really noticeable. No so with eclipses.

The image was lightly colorized to emphasize the location of the shadow, but it gives a perspective of the size of the Moon's shadow on the Earth.

The image was lightly colorized to emphasize the location of the shadow, but it gives a perspective of the size of the Moon’s shadow on the Earth.

An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is at it’s farthest from Earth, so it looks smaller, and its shadow on the Earth is smaller. It can’t completely block out the entire disk of the Sun. People standing in the shadow see an “annulus” or ring around the Sun. This is the type of eclipse that will happen on April 29, 2014.

"ring of fire" solar eclipse by Kevin Baird.

“ring of fire” solar eclipse by Kevin Baird.

Maps of eclipse visibility are available on the NASA eclipse site, http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html#SE2014Apr29A. You’ll notice this eclipse also is best viewed from Australia or Antarctica. Instead of a quick trip to a possibly hostile environment (it’s almost winter there now), how about watching on one of these sites:

 

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