PARI: Travelers to Antarctica may observe 49-second solar eclipse

Press release

Rosman, NC (April 2, 2014) – Astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute announce that on Tuesday, April 29, observers in a tiny part of Antarctica will have the opportunity to observe a rare annular solar eclipse. Unfortunately, however, this interesting phase of the eclipse will appear for only 49 seconds!

What causes an eclipse of the Sun? As the Moon orbits the Earth, it comes to New Moon once every 29½ days. Most months when this happens, the Moon passes above or below the line between the Earth and the Sun and its shadow misses the Earth. However, twice per year, a bit less than six months apart, the Moon can pass near enough to the Sun-Earth line that its shadow touches the surface of the Earth. This is not what is happening on April 29!

Instead, what is happening on April 29 is that the central part of the shadow of the Moon will miss the Earth while the edge of the shadow just grazes the Antarctic continent. Therefore, people in this area will see a ring of sunlight peeking around the edge of the Moon. But, due to the geometry and the motions of both the Earth and Moon, this spectacular phenomenon will last for just 49 seconds. Since the mathematical term for a ring shape is annulus, astronomers refer to this type of eclipse as an annular solar eclipse. This eclipse will be visible as a partial solar eclipse in the southern Indian Ocean and all of Australia.

For more information go to the following NASA website:

HYPERLINK “http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html” l “SE2014Apr29A” http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html#SE2014Apr29A

The next total solar eclipse visible from the Americas will be on August 21, 2017.

About PARI
PARI is a not-for-profit public foundation established in 1998.  Located in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, NC, PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research.  For more information about PARI and its programs, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.pari.edu” www.pari.edu.  


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