On Friday, August 1, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses half the Earth but you won't be able to see it from Ohio! The path of the Moon's umbral (central) shadow begins in Canada and will speed across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia, Mongolia, and China. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes far northeastern North America, most of Europe and Asia. No portion of the eclipse will be visible from the United States that day!
A solar eclipse happens when the orbit of the Moon carries it between the Sun and Earth. During an eclipse the Moon's cone-shaped shadow falls on the surface of the Earth blocking out most or all direct sunlight from those areas inside that shadow. The outer, "shade", portion of the shadow is called the penumbra. The inner, darkest part of the shadow called the umbra is caused by the Moon covering all, or nearly all, of the Sun's radiant face and where the total eclipse is visible. Solar eclipses, and most especially total solar eclipses, are fairly rare events for any given point on Earth. In fact, the next solar eclipse visible from the US won't occur until May 20, 2010, in the US will be visible only from some Southwestern states, and will be an annular eclipse ... one in which the Moon will cover most of the Sun but won't provide an exact fit, as in a total eclipse.
WATCH THE WEBCAST: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will host a "live" Webcast of the eclipse early Friday morning. You can get the schedule and more information at NASA's Sun-Earth Day.
Read up on eclipses and astronomy here at the library!
Photo Credit: Lon Dittrick, Cuyahoga Astronomical Association