This year’s first annular eclipse, seen in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Hawaii has come and gone, with the first pictures already hitting the internet.
While most viewers will only get to see the May 10 eclipse via the magic of technological advancement, those who saw it by looking skyward saw the beauty of the ring of fire. However, some were looking for more than the splendor of a natural phenomenon and were studying the scientific aspects of the eclipse.
Scientists will be observing the scene trying to gain a better understanding of the Earth, Sun, and Moon and how they relate to one another. The Sun plays an important role in our planet’s energy source and is the when active can send highly energetic particles and electrified materials toward Earth. This disrupts satellites and other communication devices; understanding the Sun is an important element of science, and an in-depth knowledge of eclipses is essential.
Responding to requests from social networkers, Russian space officials have agreed to situate their camera from a weather satellite in order to obtain the best pictures of Friday’s solar eclipse. Russian satellite will have the best pictures of the May 10 solar eclipse, taking detailed pictures as the lunar shadow moves around the Earth.
Two images of the Eastern hemisphere in 30-minute intervals will be captured by Russia’s Electro-L geostationary satellite; the regular imaging frequency of the satellite. The image will be made public on May 11.
The solar eclipse will occur on Friday, May 10 (or Thursday, depending on where you are in the world), but will everybody be able to see the spectacular event commonly known as “The Ring of Fire”? Residents of Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Gilbert Islands will all have a front seat view of the annual eclipse. But will you be able to see it?
Fortunately, everyone with access to the internet will be able to view the annual eclipse due to the Slooh Space Camera. Slooh will broadcast the eclipse along with a live commentary with expert views on Thursday beginning at 5:30 EDT at Space.com. No need to build a cardboard device or wear special glasses to turn your eyes towards the sun, just set your alarm tune in.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, partially blocking the Sun, not to be confused with a lunar eclipse, which is when the moon passes behind the Earth, in the shadow of the Earth. Therefore, with a solar eclipse, the lineup
is Sun, Moon, Earth; whereas with a lunar eclipse, the lineup is Sun, Earth, Moon.
A solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon occurring at new moon when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction (a terminology of perspective, seen by the naked eye). There are four different types of solar eclipses: total eclipse, annular eclipse, hybrid eclipse (annular/total eclipse), and partial eclipse.
- Total Eclipse – Occurs when the Moon completely obscures the Sun
- Last – November 13, 2012
- Next – March 20, 2015
- Annular Eclipse – Occurs when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth ; the Moon appears to be much smaller than the sun and the sun appears to be a “Ring of Fire”
- Last – May 20, 2012
- Next – May 10, 2013
- Hybrid Eclipse (Annular/Total Eclipse) – Occurs when there is a shift between an annual and a total eclipse. This is a very rare occurrence; at some points on Earth, it appears to be a total eclipse, at others an annular.
- Last – April 8, 2005
- Next – November 3, 2013
- Partial Eclipse – Occurs when the Sun and the Moon are only partially in line and the Moon only moderately occults the Sun.
- Last – November 25, 2011
- Next – October 23, 2014
Of course, if you are ever lucky enough to be in an area where you will be viewing the solar eclipse outside, protect your eyes and never look directly at the sun. When trying to take pictures of the spectacular scene, use the proper lenses and filters.
This year, we will be treated to a rare hybrid solar eclipse on November 3; it will be visible in Africa and the Northern Atlantic Ocean.
Last May, the United States was privy to an annular eclipse on May 20.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent/Product Specialist