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'Ring of fire' solar eclipse this week

australia south pacific astronomy elliptical orbit

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#1 Hum

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 14:08

On Thursday and Friday, skywatchers in parts of Australia and the Pacific region will be treated to a spectacular "ring of fire" solar eclipse, in which the moon blots out all of the sun except for its outer edge.

Here's what you need to know about this stunning skywatching event, which is also known as an annular solar eclipse.

The orbit of the Earth around the sun is an ellipse, not a circle. This means that sometimes Earth is closer to the sun than at others. The same goes for the moon's orbit around Earth, which is also elliptical rather than circular.

We are fortunate to live in a time when the sun and the moon are very close to the same apparent size in our sky. This is an illusion of perspective: The moon is small (2,159 miles wide) and close by (238,855 miles away) while the sun is large (865,278 miles wide) and far away (92,955,808 miles).

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#2 IsItPluggedIn

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:17


Unfortunately, very few people will get to see this annular eclipse, as its path travels over some of the most remote and unpopulated parts of the Earth.

The eclipse begins at sunrise over the wilderness of Western Australia. It then sweeps over the similarly empty Northern Territory and continues across northern Queensland, far to the north of the city of Cairns, where many people witnessed last year's total eclipse

Only a few roads intersect the eclipse path. This path crosses the Coral Sea and touches the eastern end of Papua New Guinea, then crosses through the middle of the Solomon Islands. From there, the path neatly avoids just about every island in the south Pacific except for Tarawa and Fanning Islands, both part of the Republic of Kiribati, formerly known as the Gilbert Islands.


#3 Growled

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:21

I saw a solar eclipse once, a long time ago. It was an awesome thing to see. I wish I could see another one.

#4 OP Hum

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 23:51

;)

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#5 Growled

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 00:23

Just beautiful.

#6 Ph1b3r0pt1c

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 00:49

Just beautiful.

Yes it is, and the thing that really makes the mind wander is that its been doing it for eons before we lived, and will be going eons after we die.

#7 OP Hum

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 00:56

^ And I hope that Humans appreciate that little miracle. ;)