FromQuarkstoQuasars

Ring Of Fire: Bizarre Solar Eclipse Will Transform Our Sun Next Week

Jolene CreightonApril 27th 2014
Composite shot shows the progress of an annular eclipse in May 2013. Image via Jia Hao | The National Maritime Museum
Composite shot shows the progress of an annular eclipse in May 2013. Image via Jia Hao | The National Maritime Museum

On Tuesday (April 29th, 2014) our star will be transformed into an amazing ring of fire. This event is known as an “annular” eclipse, which occurs because the moon is orbiting the Earth at one of its farthest points. Because it will be so far from our little planet, the moon will be too small to completely cover the Sun. Ultimately, this results in the amazing astronomical display that is shown in the image above: The moon obscures all but a tiny ring of the Sun’s light.  

Many are familiar with total eclipses, which occur when the moon completely obscures the Sun, but few have been fortunate enough to see an annular eclipse (which is so named because the ring of fire that appears around the silhouette of the moon is called an “annulus”).  And unfortunately, most people will remain unfamiliar with these events. Or at least, they will not be able to see the stellar display first hand. The only place in the world where the annular eclipse will be visible is a small area in Antarctica, and the display will happen over a rather uninhabited part of the continent.

The small area that will see the “annularity” rests between the Dumont d’Urville and Concordia  stations. These two stations are currently occupied by France; however, the fully display will just miss both of these locations. But don’t lose all hope! Partial phases of the eclipse will be visible in other places. The only other truly viable location (i.e., an area that is over land) is Australia. If you happen to be down under, the entire continent is set to get a good view (weather permitting). You should be able to see about 55% of the eclipse. 

The show will begin at 05:51 GMT and the maximum eclipse (the best part of the show) will take place at 07:00 GMT. If you do happen to be in Antarctica to witness this event, be sure to take a photo and send it our way. 

The “footprint” of the April 29th solar eclipse. Credit: Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC.
The “footprint” of the April 29th solar eclipse. Credit: Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC.

There will only be a few webcasts of this eclipse; however, Slooh is expected to carry run it for those who want to watch online. You can head to their site, or you can book mark this page to watch it. 

 

 

 

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