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Eclipses in 2013

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eclipse1There are usually only four eclipses in a given year, but in 2013 we will have five – three lunar eclipses, and two solar.

An eclipse will always occur during either the new moon or the full moon. All solar eclipses are during new moons, as lunar eclipses will always happen at the time of the full moon. 

The first lunar eclipse of 2013 was on April 25. It was visible to those in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, but not North America. During this eclipse  only a tiny portion of the Moon was covered by the Earth’s umbral shadow, but around half of the Moon was darkened from the penumbra.eclipse3

The first solar eclipse of 2013 came on May 10. The eclipse was visible across a wide swath of the Pacific region, from Australia and Indonesia all of the way east to Hawaii. The eclipse was an annular eclipse, also commonly known as a “ring of fire,” thanks to its appearance. Because the Moon passes through apogee just 3 1/2 days later (May 13 at 13:32 UT), its large distance from Earth produces a wide path of annularity.

A penumbral lunar eclipse will take place on May 25, 2013. It will be such a shallow eclipse that it is only of academic interest since it will be visually imperceptible due to the small entry into the penumbral shadow.

The last lunar eclipse of the year is a relatively deep penumbral eclipse, and will be easy to see as a darkening of the lower part of the Moon.  It is worth noting that the start and finish of a penumbral eclipse are not visible to the eye. No shadowing at all will be seen until two-thirds of the Moon’s disk is within the penumbra. Thus, the time of the best viewing is around 23:30 to 00:10 UT (3:30 pm to 4:10 pdt).eclipse4

The eastern parts of Canada will be able to observe the complete eclipse, the rest of Canada and the United States are set to experience the rise of the moon after the event has begun. Viewers in Europe and Africa will also be able to view all of the eclipse, the eastern portion of  Asia will not see the completion of the eclipse due to the setting of the moon.

The last eclipse of the year will be the most interesting. It is one of the rare hybrid or annular/total eclipses in which some sections of the path are annular while other parts are total.  The unusual geometry is due to the curvature of Earth’s surface that brings some geographic locations into the umbra while other positions are more distant and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow. The November 3 eclipse is even more unique because the central path begins annular and ends total, usually hybrids behave in the opposite way.eclipse2

While this hybrid eclipse can be seen live from only a thin slice of the earth, far south of North America, it will available for all of us to view, online.

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