November 2 – Yoked Together

Today’s factismal: The last solar eclipse of 2013 takes place tomorrow morning at 7:10 AM EST.

If you live on the East Coast, then set your alarm! You won’t want to miss the last eclipse of 2013. It happens tomorrow morning at 7:10 AM and will be visible as far west as Atlanta (just barely); if you live anywhere on the East Coast, you’ll have a great view. From North America, the eclipse will appear to be a partial eclipse with the Moon taking a bite out of the Sun. But from Europe, it will be a total eclipse.

The path of tomorrow's hybrid eclipse (Image courtesy NASA)

The path of tomorrow’s hybrid eclipse
(Image courtesy NASA)

Why the difference? Consider what happens when you and your spouse are sitting on the couch and watching TV. Your eldest walks through the room and into the kitchen, grunting “hey” as he passes (must be a teenager). As he walks across the room, he completely blocks your view(total eclipse) for a moment but only partially blocks your spouse’s view (partial eclipse) because the two of you are sitting at different ends of the couch. The same thing happens in space; because the Earth, Sun, and Moon are all moving relative to each other, the amount of the Sun that gets covered changes.

An eclipse over Texas (My camera)

An eclipse over Texas
(My camera)

Of course, eclipses don’t just happen in one year; we have some every year. There will be four eclipses in 2014. On April 15, after you pay your taxes you can watch the total lunar eclipse if you live in North America, South America, or Australia. On April 29, there will be an annular solar eclipse that will be most visible if you happen to be a penguin; outside of Antarctica and parts of Australia, it won’t be visible at all. Then on October 8, there will be another total lunar eclipse; this time it is visible mostly over Europe and Africa. And the last eclipse of 2014 happens on October 23, when a partial solar eclipse is seen across most of North America. If you’d like to learn more about eclipses, including if you’ll be able to see any of the four eclipses visible next year, then head on over to the NASA Eclipse Web Site:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

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