See Today’s Ring-of-fire Eclipse On The Web

During an annular eclipse like the one that happen later today, a ring of fire encircles the moon (seen in silhouette). Credit: Wikipedia

The New Moon will pass squarely in front of the sun later today treating anyone living along its shadow path to an annular eclipse. That path cuts across Australia, eastern Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Gilbert Islands. Sky watchers across a much broader region of the Pacific including Australia and Indonesia will witness a partial solar eclipse. The rest of us can happily watch it on the Web.

Diagram showing how the sun, moon and Earth are aligned during a total solar eclipse.The moon’s shadow, called the umbra, traces out a narrow path across the Earth’s surface as the moon covers up the sun. An annular eclipse is similar except the umbral shadow doesn’t quite reach Earth, leaving a ring of sunlight exposed.

An annular eclipse happens when the moon is at apogee, its most distant point from Earth in its monthly orbit. Being farther away, it’s too small to completely cover the sun during totality, leaving a narrow ring or annulus of sunlight hanging in the sky like a fiery wedding band.

Earth globe showing the path of today’s annual eclipse (in red). The blue lines show where a partial solar eclipse will be seen. Click image for more details. Credit: Fred Espenak

Unlike a total solar eclipse, where the moon completely blocks the sun and makes its safe to look at, solar filters are required during all phases of an annular eclipse.

That’ll all be taken care of when you head to the Web later today to see the wonder for yourself. The eclipse starts around 5:30 p.m. Central time over Australia. Here are a couple places to check out:

* SLOOH Space Camera. Webcast begins at 4:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time (2:30 p.m Pacific)

* Coca-Cola Space Center. Webcast starts at 4 p.m. Central (2 p.m. Pacific)

* Solar Eclipse Australia.  Start checking around 4:30 p.m. Central time

Click to watch video to help you visualize how the eclipse will play out.

3 Responses

  1. Lynn

    Hi Bob
    I just read of a possible fireball over England and Wales Uk, they say it could be from the Eta Aquarids, any thoughts on this, I read it on Msn, but I think it was on the BBC. Thanks Bob

    1. astrobob

      Hi Lynn,
      I took at look at the reports of this meteor and it appears to have comet from a different direction than the Eta Aquarids, making it a random fireball.

  2. Lynn

    Thanks Bob, at least I now know, just a pity it wasn’t though, but a random fireball is just as good. Thanks 🙂

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