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Solar Eclipse Will Transform Sun into ‘Ring of Fire’ Next Week

Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Earth & Space, Sci-Tech with 0 Comments

Geoff Gaherty | Space | 24th April 2014

The Moon’s orbit about the Earth is not perfectly circular, so that at different times the Moon can be slightly closer or further away than usual. This composite shot shows the progress of an annular eclipse in May 2013.  Credit: Jia Hao | The National Maritime Museum | Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013

The Moon’s orbit about the Earth is not perfectly circular, so that at different times the Moon can be slightly closer or further away than usual. This composite shot shows the progress of an annular eclipse in May 2013.
Credit: Jia Hao | The National Maritime Museum | Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013

The sun will look like a ring of fire above some remote parts of the world next Tuesday (April 29) during a solar eclipse, but most people around the world won't get a chance to see it.

Whereas lunar eclipses occur only when there's a full moon, and solar eclipsesonly happen during a new moon. Half the world saw a lunar eclipse during the full moon on April 15. When a lunar eclipse occurs, it usually means there is also a solar eclipse at the preceding or following new moon.


Tuesday's solar eclipse is known as an “annular” — rather than “total” — lunar eclipse. That’s because Tuesday's eclipse will occur when the moon is close to its farthest distance from the Earth, making it too small to cover the sun completely. The resulting effect looks like a ring of fire, called an “annulus,” appears around the silhouette of the moon. [‘Ring of Fire' Annular Solar Eclipse of April 29, 2014 (Visibility Maps)]

But most people won't see the whole eclipse. The only place in the world where this annular eclipse will be visible is a small area in Antarctica. However, partial phases of the eclipse will be visible in other places. Most of those areas are in the ocean — rarely traveled ocean, in fact — but the entire continent of Australia will get a good view.

Annular Solar Eclipse, April 2014
The annular solar eclipse of April 29, 2014 will only be total in a small area in Antarctica, but will be widely seen as a partial eclipse. The partial phases all be visible from most of Australia, and far across the southern Indian Ocean. It is seen here from Hobart, Tasmania.
Credit: Starry Night Software

The best view of the eclipse will be from the island state of Tasmania. From Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, the eclipse will begin with the moontaking a tiny nick out of the sun's edge at 3:51 p.m. local time (0551 GMT). Maximum eclipse will be at 5 p.m. (0700 GMT), and the sun will set at 5:17 p.m.(0717 GMT).


The farther north you go in Australia, the less the moon will cover the sun. In Sydney, the eclipse will begin at 4:14 p.m. and will be at maximum — 52 percent covered — at 5:15 p.m. The sun will set in eclipse two minutes later.

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