The first solar eclipse of 2014 will occur on April 29. This will be annular solar eclipse – the Moon will be too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun resulting in a ring of light around the darkened Moon. This eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in southern Aries.
This particular eclipse is rather unusual because the central axis of the Moon's antumbral shadow misses Earth entirely while the shadow edge grazes the planet. It is classified as a non-central annular eclipse, and such events are rare. Out of the 3,956 annular eclipses occurring during the 5,000-year period -2000 to +3000, only 68 of them or 1.7% are non-central (Espenak and Meeus, 2006).
The northern edge of the antumbral shadow first touches down in Antarctica at 05:57:35 UTC. The instant of greatest eclipse occurs just six minutes later at 06:03:25 UTC. For an observer at the geographic coordinates nearest the shadow axis (131° 15.6' E, 79° 38.7' S), the Sun would appear on the horizon during the 49-second annular phase. Six minutes later (06:09:36 UT), the antumbral shadow lifts off the surface of Earth as the annular eclipse ends. The entire zone of annularity appears as a small D-shaped region in eastern Antarctica.
A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, that includes the southern Indian Ocean, the southern edge of Indonesia and all of Australia.
Image credit: NASA / F. Espenak, Observer's Handbook – 2014, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
As usual, Slooh Observatory will bring us live event. Their coverage will begin on April 29 at 06:00 UTC (this will be April 28th at 23:00 PDT / April 29th at 02:00 EDT. Viewers can watch free on Slooh.com or by downloading the Slooh iPad app.
Video courtesy of SLOOH
The live image stream will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host Geoff Fox and Observatory Director Paul Cox. Slooh will also welcome guest expert Dr. Lucie Green, a BBC contributor and solar researcher at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics. Viewers can ask questions during the show by using hashtag #Slooh.
This is the 21st eclipse of Saros 148 (Espenak and Meeus, 2006). The family began with a series of 20 partial eclipses starting on September 21, 1653.
The April 29, 2014 eclipse is actually the first annular eclipse of the series. It will be followed by another annular on May 09, 2032. The series switches to hybrid on May 20, 2050 followed by the first 40 total eclipses on May 31, 2068.
After a final 12 partial eclipses, Saros 148 terminates on December 12, 2987. Complete details for the 75 eclipses in the series (in the sequence of 20 partial, 2 annular, 1 hybrid, 40 total, and 12 partial) may be found here.
The next solar eclipse will occur on October 23, 2014. Although it will be only a partial solar eclipse, it is of particular interest because the event is widely visible from Canada and the USA.
Source: NASA – Eclipses during 2014
Featured image: NASA, Edit: The Watchers
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