May 9, 2013
Australian Annular Solar Eclipse Taking Place Today
[ Watch the Video: What is a Solar Eclipse? ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
This afternoon and evening, astronomy fans in the US will have the opportunity to view the Annular Solar Eclipse taking place in Australia from their couch.
Slooh said it will be offering people the chance to see the solar eclipse live, starting at 5:30 p.m. eastern time. Tonight, the Moon's shadow will start to make its way across Australia towards eastern Papua New Guinea, creating a "Ring of Fire." As the moon begins to cross in front of the Sun, it will leave a thin ring of sunlight, or "annulus," creating the Ring of Fire.
From Australia's perspective, the eclipse will begin shortly after sunrise as it makes it way over the Pacific Ocean. The path will run between 106 miles and 140 miles, depending on location. Slooh says partial phases of the eclipse will be visible primarily from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii.
“The precise line up or syzygy of the Sun, Moon, and Earth have intrigued primitive cultures for millennia," said Bob Berman, author of numerous astronomy books, and contributing editor and monthly columnist for Astronomy Magazine. "Here are the two most important and influential celestial bodies, so far as life on Earth is concerned, and on that day we can actually watch their clockwork motions. We observe firsthand as the Moon orbits around us at 2,250 miles per hour, showing off its speed as it centrally crosses the disk of the Sun. It's pretty dramatic."
RedOrbit fans in Australia who plan on watching the event in person will need to ensure they are wearing the proper equipment so they do not cause damage to their eyes. In order to ensure safety, watchers need to wear special-purpose solar-viewing filters or even welder's goggles that are a shade 12 or 14.
US residents had the chance to catch a Ring of Fire eclipse nearly a year ago. On May 20, 2012, an annular solar eclipse took place across the western US, giving viewers the opportunity to watch a celestial event that hadn't taken place in their skies for nearly two decades. The next annular eclipse over the West Coast will not be for another 17 years. Last year's event was short lived, with the Ring of Fire effect lasting just 4.5 minutes.
Catching the Ring of Fire in person may be a once-every-few-decades event, but Slooh's live broadcasts ensure that events like these are viewable across the globe from a computer or even an iPad.