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Annular Solar Eclipse

June 10, 2002

5 Planets Align, April/May 2002
C1/2002 Comet Ikeya-Zhang
Brazil Conjunction, May 14, 2002
Calif. Conjunction, May 14, 2002
Annular Eclipse - June 10, 2002

Partial Eclipse 

I was able to view the partial solar eclipse this evening, right around 8:00 PM CDT Dallas time. I was driving north along Lemmon Avenue, on the way home from a trip to the library, and got a good view right over the top of Love Field Airport. There are no trees at that point, so it was a very flat horizon, allowing for a clear view across the airport. Quite a treat.

The moon was taking a small "bite" out of the sun about the 7 o'clock position. I would estimate between 20 and 30 percent of the face of the sun was eclipsed by the moon from my location.

The sky was perfectly clear, as all the clouds had moved out when it dried off sometime during the late afternoon. One of those clearings that happen right after a high pressure area moves in.

I was wearing my sunglasses, and that combined with the position of the sun low on the horizon and the tinted glass in my car windows made for easy observing.

One interesting thing I noticed was the phenomenon of the enlarged sun just at sunset. You know the old question: why does the sun appear larger just before it sets. Well, in this case, the sun did appear larger, as usual, but the dark moon did not. As a result, it seemed almost as if the bright sun was gibbous, while the moon was normal sized. Very pretty, as well as interesting.  Maybe it is refraction after all. Plus, I might speculate that the red rays of the setting sun were more easily refracted, while the dark shadow of the moon was not refracted at all. I am sorry now I did not plan to photograph. (The weather report was not encouraging.) It would have been interesting to see how that came out on film.

There were not many people where I was viewing the eclipse. The road is busy that time of day. However, I had pulled off into a short side street, and one other small group of guys was also observing the eclipse as the sun set. I did not actually talk to them.

The eclipse was still in progress as the sun finally set.

According to my RASC 2002 Handbook, this was an annular eclipse, and you could have observed totality from somewhere in the mid-Pacific Ocean, near Guam!

Ed Flaspoehler, President
American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Annular Eclipse
June 10, 2002

P1 20:51:49.7 UT
P2 22:59:20.6 UT
P3 00:29:09.8 UT
P4 02:26:37.3 UT

The new Moon in June 2002 will produce an "annular" solar eclipse.  The Moon is a bit too far away from Earth to cover the Sun completely, and at eclipse will leave a ring of surrounding sunlight.  

The path of "annularity," where the eclipse is at its maximum, stretches almost exactly across the Pacific Ocean from Borneo to Mexico.  While the main event will not be seen in the Americas, the Moon will produce a fine partial eclipse that includes all the US, Canada, and Mexico except for the extreme east coasts.  Just inland from the east coast, the eclipse begins at sunset the evening of Monday the 10th. Mid-eclipse will be seen at sunset across the midwest, while the whole thing will be seen west of a line that stretches from Baja California through Ontario.  The west coast sees the event shortly before sunset.  

So bright as to harm the eye, the Sun is dangerous to look at directly even in partial eclipse.  View the event only with professionally-made solar filters or by pinhole projection. Punch a very small hole in a piece of cardboard and let the sunlight fall through it onto a piece of paper.  (Do NOT look through the hole or attempt to make any kind of filter!) 

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is positioned between the sun and the Earth. The moon then casts a shadow on the Earth's surface, and also obscures the solar disk.

During a total eclipse, the moon's dark inner shadow, called the umbra, strikes the Earth. During a partial eclipse, only the fainter outer shadow, called the penumbra, strikes the Earth.

A full solar eclipse can cause brief, localized darkness, but during a partial eclipse, only a slight dimming of sunlight during maximum eclipse will be perceptible.

At maximum eclipse, the solar disk will resemble a cookie with a hearty bite taken out of one side.

Safe Eclipse Observing

The American Optometric Association warns skywatchers not to look directly at the eclipsed sun. "Looking at the solar eclipse without proper protection can result in serious eye damage," the association warns in a statement. To view the eclipse, the experts recommend special equipment, such as a welder's lens, a pinhole camera, or other indirect viewing equipment.

 Looking at the sun directly without proper protection  is dangerous and can permanently damage your eyesight.

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