The Next Eclipse

Multi-year Eclipse Calendar here!

There were 4 eclipses in 2011.  But alas, they were all the small ones.  Four partial solar eclipses graced the earthly calendar in 2011 – and not one of them as spectacular as a Total Solar Eclipse.  Partial Eclipses like this one from Oman in January…

partial 300 size

… are amazing events if you happen to be there when it happens.  But the vast majority of eclipse chasers don’t leave home to travel the world to see them.  We save our nickels and our dimes for the big events – Total Solar Eclipses.  The next TSE is in November 2012 – visible in the South Pacific Ocean north of New Zealand – and from a tiny spot of dry land in Australia near Port Douglas along the country’s tropical north-eastern coast.  I have a luxurious villa booked for this one!!

But the Next Eclipse that is drawing the attention of chasers is the Annular Solar Eclipse in May 2012.  Annular Eclipses are not quite as spectacular as TSEs – it doesn’t get as dark – stars & planets don’t appear in the sky – and the beautiful corona – the atmosphere of the sun – stays hidden from view the whole time.  But for rabid rank and file chasers who have been starved for a celestial chase sequence since July 2010 – we’ll take what we can get.

Follow the little red dot!

The absence of the great coronal reveal notwithstanding, Annular Eclipses still have a lot to offer.  Much of the thrill and excitement of the chase remains intact – the spectacle in the sky is certainly very, very cool – and yet again, we get to visit a part of the globe we have never seen before.  At least, that is the case for me as the eclipse on May 21, 2012, is the first eclipse to arrive in North America in a very long time – exciting the skies over several western states near the sunset hour.  From California to Texas, the eclipse will appear over dozens of forests and National Parks, including The Grand Canyon and Monument Valley – places I have never seen!  The stunning landscapes of the American south-west have always held a certain inexplicable allure for me and I am thrilled to be finally getting my chance to do my thing in this region.

annular path USA
Hundred of chances from California to Texas – May 20, 2012.

If I were you – thinking about doing something out of the ordinary and seeing a solar eclipse – then I would start making my plans now.  This thing lands right in the back yard of America – offers great weather prospects – easy travel and maneuverability –  and almost endless options for seeking out the mystique of the region before or after the big day.  I intend to make the most of this opportunity – because this is what life is about.

Here is what the Annular Solar Eclipse looked like photographed on my frisbee back in 1994.  With this type of eclipse, the Moon is too far away to completely cover the Sun,  so when it moves in front of it, a ring of sun, or annulus, is left around the Moon.

frisbee annular 2
Moments before Annularity on May 10, 1994.

frisbee annular 1
The classic ring of Annularity – photographed by pointing my binoculars towards the sun and the exit pupil towards my frisbee.  May 10, 1994.

If you do plan to see this eclipse, here are a few indispensable resources to get you going:

The maps & the climatology for this eclipse from Jay Anderson.  Jay is the weather guru for eclipse chasers worldwide.  And – the truly awesome, interactive, Google maps for this eclipse from Xavier Jubier. Zoom in on the path of the eclipse – click anywhere – and see the local circumstances for the eclipse at that location.  Eclipse planning doesn’t get any easier!

Want to know more?  Post me a comment, below.

6 responses to “The Next Eclipse

  1. hey maybe we’ll see you there mon frere! really nice short film and presentation! hopefully jean marie will hook you up w- some speaking stuff? cheers-JP

  2. Hey, Great information!

    My wife and I are planning a trip from Sydney Australia around this time so we can check it out. A little confused about specific time though. We will be in Mt Shasta, Cali for it, though can’t figure out what local time it will be. 1:20am doesn’t seem right! Could you shed any light at all?

    Love the binoculars trick, im going to try that next time!!



  3. Eclipse times are usually expressed in Universal Time at Greenwich, England. You have to make the calculation for your local circumstances.
    In this case, for area around Grand Canyon and Zion National Park in the U.S., the eclipse happens just before sunset on Sunday May 20, 2012.

  4. I’m thinking of going to this eclipse but am wondering if I need to be in the “central path” of the eclipse or only somewhere within the “northern” and “southern” limits of it.


  5. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing this eclipse in Reno, or somewhere in driving distance from Reno if the weather is bad. This one is too good to miss, and yes, it’s the next occurence of the annular eclipse of May 10, 1994 or saros #128.

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