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Rykster

You Were My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine...

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Posted (edited)

user posted image Sun to Vanish: Total Eclipse Visible in Select Spots

By Joe Rao

SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist

posted: 24 March 2006

04:09 pm ET

Amateur and professional astronomers from around the world will soon be congregating in parts of Brazil, Africa, and western Asia, to view a total eclipse of the Sun that will take place on Wednesday, March 29. Without a question of doubt, a total eclipse of the Sun is one of the most spectacular natural sights that one can witness.

Only during totality can one observe the pearly white solar corona, as well as the ruddy chromosphere, and prominences – sights that are normally hidden from our view by the brilliant light of the Sun. In addition, darkness similar to 20 or 30 minutes after sundown suddenly falls over the surrounding landscape, allowing the brighter stars and planets to appear while strange and exotic colors rim the horizon.

Contrary to popular belief, a total eclipse of the Sun is not a rare or unusual spectacle.

In fact, over the past 25 years there have been no fewer than sixteen total solar eclipses, an average of one roughly every 18 months. The regions from where the spectacular sight of a totally eclipsed Sun can be seen, however, are strictly confined to a narrow track; the path that the dark central shadow of the Moon (called the “umbra”) traces out over the Earth’s surface. That track may run for thousands of miles, yet may average less than a hundred miles in width. So while the dark lunar shadow might sweep over the Earth twice over a span of just three years, for a specific geographical location, the odds of lying directly in the path of that shadow is very small.

So, if you intend to wait for this, the greatest of celestial road shows to come to your hometown, your wait is likely to be (on average) about 400 years. That is why many dedicated eclipse watchers – sometimes referred to as “umbraphiles” – will literally chase total solar eclipses around the globe. All for the privilege of “basking in the Moon’s shadow” for a few precious minutes

The last time skywatchers had an opportunity to see the Sun in total eclipse was last April when the Moon’s umbra briefly touched the Earth over the south Pacific Ocean during an unusual “hybrid” eclipse. Besides being accessible only to shipboard observers, the maximum length of totality lasted only about 42 seconds. In contrast, this week's eclipse will be far more accessible and totality will last much longer; just over 4 minutes in the Libyan Desert.

user posted image
  • Partial eclipse: The Moon covers only part of the Sun.
  • Total eclipse: The Moon covers the entire disk of the Sun along a narrow path across the Earth.
  • Annular eclipse: The Moon is too far from Earth to completely cover the Sun. A thin ring of the Sun's disk surrounds the Moon.
user posted image View: Full Article | Source: Space.com Edited by Rykster

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I love that song Rykster :tu: .

I remember seeing the total eclipse of the sun back in 1999 here in the UK. It was very surreal, the birds stopped singing and everything went really quiet.

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It's no wonder eclipses freaked out early man. :w00t: I have seen two in my life. The only total one was when I was a wee lad. Then I saw a partial back a few years ago. I used the old "paper with a hole in it" method.

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I remember finding out about a particle hitting and running to pull my sons out of school so that they could see it. All that I could find quickly to use was a dark purple plastic vase that I had received some flowers in. We took turns looking up through the bottom of vase and could see if perfectly in shades of purple.

I used a special glass lense for a later one and found to my regret I should have saved the vase, the view from it was better.

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I stood inside a hallway with a view of Sol, with the door open. I took a peice of heavy cardboard with a small hole in the center and projected a perfect image on the wall. Very cool, if low tech!

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Posted (edited)

I remember finding out about a particle hitting and running to pull my sons out of school so that they could see it. All that I could find quickly to use was a dark purple plastic vase that I had received some flowers in. We took turns looking up through the bottom of vase and could see if perfectly in shades of purple.

I used a special glass lense for a later one and found to my regret I should have saved the vase, the view from it was better.

A WARNING

Do not use coloured glass (even if it is a vase) to look at the sun. This will probably not filter out infra-red light. Using this method can lead to permanent eye damage and even blindness. If you can not get hold of special eclipse glasses then use the pin hole projection method. Take a piece of card, drill a small hole in it and project the image onto a wall or the ground.

Never stare at the sun, it isn't worth the risk to your eyesight.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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^^^

Well put Waspie. I had forgotten about the coloured glass. :tu:

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I have never seen a total solar eclipse...Every amateur astronomer's dream...I will travel one day to see it!

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I was lucky enough to travel to Zimbabwe in 2001 to see a total solar eclipse. It was the single most stunningly beautiful thing I have seen. I will see more one day.

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These links are for you Froggy. :tu:

user posted image And then the rains came...

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Is it any more dangerous to look at the sun during an eclipse as opposed to any other time? I keep seeing warnings saying never to look directly at an eclipse, yet I look directly at the sun fairly often and it's fine.

Maybe I'm just odd. :P

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Posted (edited)

Is it any more dangerous to look at the sun during an eclipse as opposed to any other time? I keep seeing warnings saying never to look directly at an eclipse, yet I look directly at the sun fairly often and it's fine.

Maybe I'm just odd. :P

Odd I'm not sure about but if you keep looking at the sun you will be partially blind.

It is safe to look at the sun unprotected only during totality of an eclipse. Looking at the sun at any other time (including a partial eclipse) and you run the risk of developing blind spots on your retina leading to blurred vision (which can't be corrected by glasses) or even blindness.

You must have seen what happens when you focus sun light onto a piece of paper using a magnifying glass. Well guess what the function of the lens at the front of your eye is... it's to focus light on you retina.

I include the BBC News story below to show that I am not exaggerating the danger:

Eclipse 'damages boy's eyesight'

The family of a boy whose eyesight was damaged when he looked at an eclipse of the sun has said his school should have done more to protect his safety.

Serena Howard said her 10-year-old son Conor would now be unable to fulfil his dream of becoming a pilot.

Conor looked at the annular eclipse on 3 October at playtime at St Nicolas Primary School in Cranleigh, Surrey.

Surrey County Council said: "Conor was present in an assembly two weeks before which spelt out dangers of the sun."

Simple assembly

Conor said he looked at the sun after going out to play: "After five minutes my eyes went all blurry and misty."

He said his sight was still misty, over a month later.

Conor's parents say neither they nor the Parsonage Road school were aware there would be an eclipse that day.

They have been told the loss of central vision in their son's right eye is permanent.

"We feel the government should have given a warning out to the schools and the schools should have been aware of the dangers," said Mrs Howard.

"A simple assembly that morning reminding the children, or changing the playtime, or even doing a project with them at the time of the eclipse could have prevented his eyesight being damaged."

A statement from the council (SCC) said: "This is indeed an unfortunate incident and our thoughts are with the family.

"However, the school has continually promoted sun safety.

"We are satisfied that every precaution was taken."

Source: BBC News 7th November 2005

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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