Teacher Eclipse Pictures

   Here is a collection of pictures and comments from Science Teacher members of the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) who viewed the August 21st total solar eclipse from different locations across the United States of America. The State where the picture(s) was/were taken is abbreviated to be part of the picture name – so you could scroll down to the bottom of the picture to see that.
   The caption below a picture starts the sequence of pictures from each teacher. Clicking on any picture will open it into a slide show where you can move forward or backward through the various pictures.
   From Ryan Westberry: Here’s a video I made after watching the totality in Wyoming at Green River Lakes just off the center line. I sent my drone up really high to capture the landscape while also filming our reactions on the surface- and set it all to music.
I did edit the language in the beginning of totality (overcome by that moment) but there are some “Oh S^*t” toward the end that need to be known if anyone plans on showing it. (I’m not promoting that.) I’m just wanting to share in the emotion (I was literally shaking and had tears of joy) and magnitude of watching the event and the love of the science. 🙂

   Here is one of the 360o videos I made while the school yard was filling up with families and the students.

   If you are wondering what do with any eclipse glasses perhaps donate them to the Eclipse Glasses Donation Program – organized by Astronomers Without Borders.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Solar Eclipse of August 21


   I too have written some information about the solar eclipse, aka “The Great American Eclipse”, of August 21st. It is my attempt to compare two different views of the eclipse. One will be from within the path of totality where I will be, and the other in my hometown of Lee’s Summit Missouri just south of the path of totality by a few miles. As a result residents in Lee’s Summit, unless they drive north, will only see a partial eclipse with 99.986% of the Sun covered.
   So without further ado click here to go to Eclipsed Thoughts.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

March Moon at Descending Node, and A Solar Eclipse

july8-descending-node   Wednesday March 9th our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
   When a node crossing happens at or near enough to the time of either new Moon or Full Moon there will be an eclipse. The time for the new Moon this month is 1:54 UT on the 9th and the time for the node crossing on the 9th is 6:29 UT. At these times the eclipse will be happening Tuesday evening on my side of the globe so watching the eclipse from around here requires watching online.

solar-eclipse-ani

   Go to the Hermit Eclipse web site for information about this eclipse as well as for other eclipses.

   Go to the Space.com web site to watch the eclipse live starting at Tuesday evening 5 pm CST. This is being broadcast from the Slooh telescope web site.

   
   
   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

New Moon + Node Crossing + Apogee = Solar Eclipse

solar-eclipse-ani    Sunday morning September 13th the Moon, at new Moon phase, will pass between the Earth and the Sun setting up a partial solar eclipse that will be visible from southern Africa toward and then across the Antarctic continent. As with all eclipses the amount and duration of an eclipse is all a matter of timing. The closer the time for the new Moon phase (September 13th 6:41 UT) is to the time of a node crossing (September 14th 4:38 UT) the more centered the Moon will be on the Sun or centered within the Earth’s shadow for a lunar eclipse. The further apart these two times are then the eclipse will probably be a partial eclipse as is the situation for this one. This partial solar eclipse also occurs close to the time for lunar apogee (September 14th 11 UT), the furthest the Moon is from the Earth for that particular orbit.
    Use the this link to Hermit Eclipse web site for additional information about viewing the eclipse. Or check the time of your local sunset and then use the online eclipse-time calculator from NASA to find the timing of the eclipse for your location. Alternately use the Eclipse Calculator at the Time and Date web site.

aug17-ascending-node    On Monday September 14th at 4:38 UT (September 13th at 11:38 pm CDT) our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

sep14-apogee-moon   The Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), this month on Monday September 14th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.86 Earth diameters (406,464 km or 252,565 miles) from the Earth.
   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*

*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   
   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

March 2015 Equinox and Solar Eclipse

   Friday March 20th is an equinox day. This means that for those in the northern hemisphere winter is ending and spring has ‘sprung’ (starts). For our counterparts south of the equator summer is ending and fall is beginning. From a geographical perspective we would describe the Sun as being over the Earth’s equator, and as this graphic shows there would be an equal amount of daylight and night on our planet as a result.
    At mid-day on the equator the sun is directly overhead and from that latitude you have no shadow, just a ‘blob-like’ shadow at your feet as this picture of my feet taken at mid-day in Quito Ecuador shows.

    Regardless of your hemispheric preference get outside and cast a shadow!

seasons-ani  Northern hemisphere spring officially (well at least astronomically) begins at 22:45 UT (4:45 pm CST) on the 20th when the Sun reaches the celestial coordinates of 0 hours and 0 degrees as it moves northward along the ecliptic crossing the celestial equator. At this location the Sun is within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes and not just entering Aries the Ram as the pseudoscience of astrology would have you believe.

    To learn more about the celestial coordinates click here to read a previous post about seasons and the equinox.

   The time of this equinox is about 13 hours after a new Moon phase and a solar eclipse. This picture shows the shadow of the Moon cast on the Earth during a solar eclipse as seen from the International Space Station.

   Click here to see the online world sunlight map used to make the day/night graphic at the top of the page.

sun-earth   Click here to go to the NASA Sun-Earth Days web site.

   Here is a short series of hourly pictures taken during the day on the September equinox on the equator in Quito Ecuador at Collegio Menor San Francisco de Quito, a private school that I visited and did the SunShIP project with (Sun Shadow Investigation Project).

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Eclipse Countdown!

   Tomorrow, Thursday October 23rd, there will be a solar eclipse visible across much of North america including the continental United States. For the U.S. the eclipse starts during mid to late afternoon and is in progress at sunset. The further west the higher above the horizon will be the Sun and Moon and much if not all of the eclipse will be seen. From Kansas City Missouri the eclipse will reach a maximum of about 50% and will be setting during mid-eclipse.
   Check the time of your local sunset and then use the online eclipse-time calculator from NASA to find the timing of the eclipse for your location.
solar-eclipse-ani   Alternately use the Eclipse Calculator at the Time and Date web site. Click here to see the times for Kansas City, MO – or to enter the name of your city.
   What will add to the eclipse viewing is the extremely large sunspot that should still be visible tomorrow during the time of the eclipse. I’ve been observing this sunspot since it appeared several days ago. And the large sunspot has been really interesting. I know that the Sun rotates but watching how much this large sunspot has moved in over the last few days is pretty cool. Today the sunspot look liked it was starting to break apart.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

October Moon at Ascending Node = Partial Solar Eclipse

23oct-ascending-node   On Thursday October 23rd our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
At about the time of the node crossing the new Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, causing a partial solar eclipse that will be visible during the late afternoon hours across much of the continental United States. The eclipse path will start off the coast of eastern Siberia, follow an eastward path across parts of Canada, and then travel south across the United States. Since the eclipse will happen in the afternoon in the time zones across the United States, it may be in progress as the Sun sets for some locations. So check the time of your local sunset and then use the online eclipse-time calculator from NASA to find the timing of the eclipse for your location.
solar-eclipse-ani   Alternately use the Eclipse Calculator at the Time and Date web site. Click here to see the times for Kansas City, MO – or to enter the name of your city.

Sun Not in Scorpio (aka Scorpius) Today

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Coincidentally according to the pseudoscience of astrology on 23 October the Sun should be crossing the western boundary of Scorpio as it “enters” that constellation. In reality the Sun is still within the constellation of Virgo the Maiden.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

New Moon at Descending Node=Solar Eclipse

annular-eclipse-img   Monday morning, 28 April, at 6:37 am CDT (11:37 UT) the waning but nearly new Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the plane of the ecliptic. The plane of the ecliptic, or just ‘the ecliptic’ in reality is the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun.
29april-annular_eclipse-ani   Coincidentally the time for new Moon is 1:17 am CDT (6:17 UT) 29 April, and when the time for these two events, node crossing and new Moon or full Moon, is this close we have a solar eclipse. This time around we have an annular eclipse that unfortunately is best viewed (if possible) from a rather remote area of the world – Antarctica.
   An annular solar eclipse at new Moon phase occurs with the same arrangement for a total solar eclipse at new Moon phase with the difference being that with an annular eclipse the Moon is further from the Earth. This results in the Moon having a smaller apparent diameter then the Sun, and so at mid-eclipse the disk of the Moon does not completely cover the sun’s disk. This leaves a ‘ring of fire’, the annulus, around the Moon.
   How does the Moon get further from the Sun is explained by knowing the Moon’s orbital path is elliptical rather than circular so its distance from the Earth at various phases varies. See a recent post about the Moon at perigee for more about this.

Click here to see eclipse information from NASA. (PDF)

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Eclipse and the Nodes

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   The solar eclipse on Sunday 3 November, will have been brought to us by the nodes. No the nodes are not a scientific nor a musical group, but rather the nodes represent an intersection between the orbital path of our Moon, or another planet, with the Earth’s orbital path, the plane of the ecliptic. There are two nodes or intersections, the ascending node and the descending node. There are two nodes because the planets as well as our Moon do not orbit the Sun on the same level, or plane as does the Earth. Their respective orbits are inclined (tilted) away from the plane of the ecliptic by varying amounts such that they will at times appear below or above the plane of the ecliptic. There will be two times each orbit around the Sun where the planet or our Moon will be on the plane of the ecliptic as it crosses moving from below setting up the ascending node or from above toward below, setting up the descending node.

Eclipse animation

Eclipse Animation

   So what is the significance of the nodes? The significance is all about timing. If the time of the new Moon phase, for example, occurs at or near the time for a node crossing then there will be a solar eclipse. Remember that at this moment the Moon is on the plane of the ecliptic and is more or less directly between the Earth and the Sun. More importantly, if the times are exact or very close there will be either a total solar eclipse or an annular solar eclipse. On 3 November the new Moon phase is 12:48 UT 6:48 am CST) and is at its ascending node nearly 6 hours earlier at 6:55 UT (12:55 am CST). The Moon makes first contact with the Sun at 10:04 UT (4:04 am CST); maximum eclipse, mid-eclipse, is at 12:46 UT (6:46 am CST); and the eclipse officially ends with last contact at 14:27 UT (8:47 am CST).
    To sort of complete this story, if there is a solar eclipse, no matter how total or less than total, there will be a lunar eclipse two weeks away at full Moon phase. Eclipses occur in pairs so this pair started with the penumbral lunar eclipse last month at full Moon on 18 October.
Moon Grazing the Earth's Shadow

Moon Grazing the Earth’s Shadow

Since that occurred about 26 hours before the Moon was at its descending node the angle the Moon followed through the Earth’s shadows only had it ‘graze’ the less noticeable outer penumbral shadow. Unless you knew about it you would have not noticed a slight dimming of the reflected moonlight. And, because the Moon’s orbital path is inclined, this lunar eclipse which was at descending node means that the 3 November solar eclipse will be at its ascending node – which it will be.

   Mercury is also in the picture because it too is at its ascending node and just a few days ago Mercury was at inferior conjunction. Had these two, ascending node and inferior conjunction, coincided we would have had a transit of the Sun by Mercury.
   
   
   
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Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Solar Eclipse – Not for the USA — Actually It Was!

Click on picture to see full size original

Click on picture to see full size original

   4 November: Not sure if I owe an apology or just say “My bad!” but clearly I got my description of the solar eclipse wrong. It was visible shortly after sunset for many along the U.S. eastern coastline as this picture shows from New York City taken by Chris Cook.

   On Sunday 3 November the rising Sun and new Moon as we see them from Earth will intersect or be aligned so that the Moon pass in front of the Sun briefly giving us a solar eclipse. However the circumstances for this solar eclipse are such that the eclipse starts as an annular eclipse where the Moon’s disk silhouetted against the Sun will not completely cover the Sun at the moment of mid-eclipse. This type of eclipse, a combination annular and total, can happen at either sunrise or sunset when the Moon’s umbral shadow does not quite reach the Earth’s surface. However for this eclipse very shortly after sunrise, less than one minute later, the Moon’s disk covers the Sun giving rise to a total solar eclipse for the duration of the eclipse.

   At sunrise along the parts of the east coast of the United States the eclipse will already be in progress and will really not be one that the U.S.A. should get ready for. Use the NASA prepared eclipse map for a ‘google-like’ interactive map that shows the eclipse path. Click anywhere on the map to get viewing information, if any, for that location clicked on. africa-eclipse-aniAs the map shows the Moon’s shadow follows a path that begins in the North Atlantic Ocean and ends on the east coast of Africa.
   Best viewing of this eclipse, at or near mid-eclipse, will be for the residents of western Africa at around mid-day local time. This animated graphic shows the eclipse as it would be seen from the west coast of Africa in the city of Dakar, a coastal city in Senegal. At mid-eclipse nearly 80% of the Sun will be covered.

eclipse-ani   What cities in the United States are involved? None. Click here to see or download a PDF document that shows a table listing local circumstance times for the eclipse. As the table shows, for all of the United States cities listed, the eclipse is already in progress and the Sun is at an altitude of 0 degrees – on the horizon. From the eastern coast of the United States maximum eclipse actually occurs before sunrise and the eclipse more or less is over within the next 30 minutes or so – which is about the time for local sunrise.

   Click here to see a static map of the eclipse path that includes contact times.

   
   
   
telescopeClick here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.