Solar and Lunar Eclipes

Topics: Solar eclipse, Lunar eclipse, Saros cycle Pages: 8 (2880 words) Published: May 1, 2012
Procrastination is part of the human condition. We avoid what's painful and stay in our comfort zones. That's why we occasionally need a little cosmic kick in the pants to push us off the fence and into action. Eclipses are these agents of change. They fall four to six times a year and turn things upside-down. In our disoriented state, we may act out of character or see turbulence in the world. Eclipses can also help break patterns and shift dynamics. However, most astrologers suggest waiting a week or so before taking drastic action, allowing the eclipse energy to settle first. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon. The type and length of an eclipse depend upon the Moon's location relative to its orbital nodes. The most recent total lunar eclipse occurred on December 10, 2011. The previous total lunar eclipse occurred on June 15, 2011; The recent eclipse was visible from all of Asia and Australia, seen as rising over Europe and setting over Northwest North America. The last to previous total lunar eclipse occurred on December 21, 2010, at 08:17 UTC.[1] Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a certain relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of the Earth. A lunar eclipse lasts for a few hours, whereas a total solar eclipse lasts for only a few minutes at any given place, due to the smaller size of the moon's shadow. Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are no brighter (indeed dimmer) than the full moon itself. Two solar and two lunar eclipses take place in 2012 as follows. 2012 May 20: Annular Solar Eclipse|

2012 Jun 04: Partial Lunar Eclipse|
2012 Nov 13: Total Solar Eclipse|
2012 Nov 28: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse|

Annular Solar Eclipse of May 20
The first solar eclipse of 2012 occurs at the Moon's descending node in central Taurus. An annular eclipse will be visible from a 240 to 300 kilometre-wide track that traverses eastern Asia, the northern Pacific Ocean and the western United States. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, that includes much of Asia, the Pacific and the western 2/3 of North America (Figure 1). The annular path begins in southern China at 22:06 UT. Because the Moon passed through apogee one day earlier (May 19 at 16:14 UT), its large distance from Earth produces a wide path of annularity. Traveling eastward, the shadow quickly sweeps along the southern coast of Japan as the central line duration of annularity grows from 4.4 to 5.0 minutes. Tokyo lies 10 kilometres north of the central line. For the over 10 million residents within the metropolitan area, the annular phase will last 5 minutes beginning at 22:32 UT (on May 21 local time). The annular ring is quite thick because the Moon's apparent diameter is only 94% that of the Sun. Traveling with a velocity of 1.1 kilometres/second, the antumbral shadow leaves Japan and heads northeast across the Northern Pacific. The instant of greatest eclipse [1] occurs at 23:52:47 UT when the eclipse magnitude [2] reaches 0.9439. At that instant, the duration of annularity is 5 minutes 46 seconds, the path width is 237 kilometres and the Sun is 61° above the flat horizon formed by the open ocean. The shadow passes just south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands as the central track slowly curves to the southeast. After a 7000 kilometre-long ocean voyage lasting nearly 2 hours, the antumbra finally reaches land again along the rugged coastlines of southern Oregon and northern California (Figure 2) at 01:23 UT (May 20 local time). Redding, CA lies 30 kilometres south of the central line....

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