Friday, June 26, 2009

Triple eclipse a virtual phenomena

On July 7 the Sun, Earth and Moon will line up with the latter's orbital ascending node, the next Full Moon's northern most part will pass through southern most part of Earth's shadow, the very edge of the penumbra.

This partial eclipse, such as it is, begins at 8:37:51 UT, as the Moon's farthest northern hemisphere rolls through the southern most outer hazy edge of Earth's shadow. The naked eye west of the Mississippi River will not detect any event whatsoever. But it lasts one hour and forty six minutes and ends at 10:39:23. There's the skinny on that "event," hardly qualifying as an "eclipse" at all.

The fortieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first step off the ladder of Eagle, however, presents an entirely different story. (Or close enough, anyway.)

Unfortunately for me, and others living in the Western Hemisphere, this magnificent and majory Total Eclipse of the Sun occurs on July 22.

The path of the Moon's Umbral shadow extends across India, China, a sprinkling of Japan and the South Pacific and a partial eclipse will be seen "within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean," NASA reports.

"Authors," writes a Bangalore Blogger from the Indian Subcontinent "raise questions over triple eclipse phenomena."

"Triple eclipse, to be witnessed in July and August this year, is a rare astronomical event and Indian authors express fears of it being a bad omen. Lunar Eclipse on July 7 followed by solar eclipse on July 22 and lunar eclipse on August 6 motivated a southern Bangalore based couple D. K. and Hema Hari to search for answers about the significance of this historical event in the present times."

Oh, well, the "couple underwent empirical study about the rare event and have recently released their book," entitled, "Will history repeat itself? Triple eclipse of July 2009."

If anything, the most dramatic eclipse in this "triple play" can be witnessed by more than two billion inhabitants of Earth, a month from now. Photography of Total Eclipses has continued to improve, however, with no ceiling in view.

Finally, on August 6, we can compare the chart above with the similarly invisible penumbral eclipse of July 7 and see why this "rare" triple play happens; the only way it could happen. Two nearly widest swings of the relative position of the ascending node of the Moon shaving the farthest opposite edges of Earth's shadow.

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