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Annular Eclipse

May 9, 2013

A “ring of fire” will shine down on Australia and the South Pacific this afternoon — an annular solar eclipse. The Moon will pass directly between Earth and the Sun, covering up most of the solar disk. But the Moon is close to its farthest distance from Earth, so it doesn’t completely obscure the Sun. The result is a ring of sunlight around the Moon.

This kind of eclipse isn’t nearly as spectacular as a total eclipse, when the Moon covers up the entire Sun. Still, it does produce some interesting effects. The light grows dimmer, like early dusk. The temperature drops, too. And gaps between the leaves of trees act as lenses, projecting shadowy images of the eclipsed Sun.

The eclipse gets started in Australia late this afternoon as measured from most of the U.S., but the early morning of May 10th in Australia. The path of the annular eclipse will be up to about 150 miles wide as it races across Australia, the Solomon Islands, and the wide-open expanses of the Pacific.

A partial eclipse will be visible across most of the Pacific basin, with the Moon covering a portion of the Sun. That includes Hawaii, where the eclipse gets underway at 2:23 p.m. and lasts until about 5. The Moon will cover no more than a third of the Sun’s disk — leaving plenty of sunshine for those warm tropical beaches.

Those of us in the rest of the U.S. are out of luck — the eclipse ends before any of the lunar shadow can touch North America.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2013

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