First Solar Eclipse of 2014!

solar eclipse

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. | Jia Hao/The National Maritime Museum

The first solar eclipse of 2014 will occur in conjunction with the new moon on Tuesday, April 29 at 2:14 a.m. EDT. The event will mainly be visible from parts of Australia and Antarctica, but fear not! Those of us in other parts of the world can still catch all the action via Slooh’s live webcast; coverage begins at 2:00 a.m. EDT.  The lunar disk will partially cover the sun over Australia, resulting in a partial solar eclipse. Partial solar eclipses can be observed when only the lunar penumbra (the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an object) touches the Earth. Further south, a lopsided annular “Ring of Fire” eclipse will occur near the horizon for a small, uninhabited part of Antarctica. Penguins will likely be the only ones to enjoy front-row seats to the sky spectacle. Annular eclipses occur when the Moon appears smaller than the Sun as it passes centrally across the solar disk and a bright ring, or annulus, of sunlight remains visible around the moon’s silhouette. The best view of the eclipse will be from the island state of Tasmania. 

The maximum number of solar eclipses (partial, annular, or total) that can occur in a given year is five, and there are at least two solar eclipses per year somewhere on the earth. In 2014, we will see two solar eclipses with the second one occurring on October 23rd. For viewing information, consult this NASA map showing the shadow path of the solar eclipse. The chart, prepared by NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak, also lists times for maximum eclipse.

Remember never to look directly into the sun without using astronomical-grade solar filters; permanent eye damage can result. 

solar eclipse

Photo taken in the Indian city of Varanasi on July 22, 2009. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

Sources:
1. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/28/5-sky-events-this-week-penguin-solar-eclipse-comet-encounters-whirlpool/
2. http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/eclipse-information.html

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