Published on May 5, 2012
Annular Solar Eclipse 20 May 2012
The first solar eclipse of 2012 occurs at the Moon's descending node in central Taurus. An annular eclipse will be visible from a 240 to 300 kilometre-wide track that traverses eastern Asia, the northern Pacific Ocean and the western United States. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, that includes much of Asia, the Pacific and the western 2/3 of North America.
The annular path begins in southern China at 22:06 UT. Because the Moon passed through apogee one day earlier (May 19 at 16:14 UT), its large distance from Earth produces a wide path of annularity. Traveling eastward, the shadow quickly sweeps along the southern coast of Japan as the central line duration of annularity grows from 4.4 to 5.0 minutes.
Tokyo lies 10 kilometres north of the central line. For the over 10 million residents within the metropolitan area, the annular phase will last 5 minutes beginning at 22:32 UT (on May 21 local time). The annular ring is quite thick because the Moon's apparent diameter is only 94% that of the Sun. Traveling with a velocity of 1.1 kilometres/second, the antumbral shadow leaves Japan and heads northeast across the Northern Pacific. The instant of greatest eclipse occurs at 23:52:47 UT when the eclipse magnitude reaches 0.9439. At that instant, the duration of annularity is 5 minutes 46 seconds, the path width is 237 kilometres and the Sun is 61° above the flat horizon formed by the open ocean.
The shadow passes just south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands as the central track slowly curves to the southeast. After a 7000 kilometre-long ocean voyage lasting nearly 2 hours, the antumbra finally reaches land again along the rugged coastlines of southern Oregon and northern California (Figure 2) at 01:23 UT (May 20 local time).
Redding, CA lies 30 kilometres south of the central line. Nevertheless, it still experiences an annular phase lasting 4 1/2 minutes beginning at 01:26 UT. It is already late afternoon along this section of the eclipse path. The Sun's altitude is 20° during the annular phase and decreasing as the track heads southeast. Central Nevada, southern Utah, and northern Arizona are all within the annular path.
By the time the antumbra reaches Albuquerque, NM (01:34 UT), the central duration is still 4 1/2 minutes, but the Sun's altitude has dropped to 5°. As its leading edge reaches the Texas Panhandle, the shadow is now an elongated ellipse extending all the way to Nevada. Seconds later, the antumbra begins its rise back into space above western Texas as the track and the annular eclipse end.
During the course of its 3.5-hour trajectory, the antumbra's track is approximately 13,600 kilometres long and covers 0.74% of Earth's surface area. Partial phases of the eclipse are visible primarily from the USA, Canada, the Pacific and East Asia.
Watch it Live from Slooh Space Camera at this Link:
Google Maps and Solar Eclipse Paths:
Music: Time between Us by Ryan Farish
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