Monday, November 4, 2013

November's hybrid eclipse: First Reports

Partially eclipsed Sun rises behind the Empire State Building in New York
City, early Sunday, November 3
[Chris Cook Photography].
Kelly Beatty
Sky & Telescope

To witness a rare annular-total solar eclipse, “umbraphiles” from around the world converged along a narrow path from western Atlantic to northern Kenya. They report many successes and some wild experiences.

A total solar eclipse never fails to deliver the kind of otherworldly experience that is both beautiful in its delicacy and ominous in its abruptness. Little wonder, then, that people from around the world do whatever it takes to stand in the Moon’s shadow.

Such devotion was again evident during November 3rd’s eclipse, during which the Moon’s shadow traced out a ribbon of darkness some 13,600 km long but only 58 km across at its widest. Owing to Earth’s curvature, this intriguing event began as a barely annular eclipse in the western Atlantic Ocean that quickly transitioned to full totality before sweeping across central Africa.

At the western end, a group of intrepid observers chased the Moon’s shadow aboard a Falcon 900B aircraft that took off from Bermuda. Timing was critical, given the ultra-narrow shadow, but the team reports qualified success. “We agree this one is still too close to call,” comments participant Liz O’Mara. “Our possible choices for the seconds of totality seen are 1, 0, and less than 0.”

The longest duration, 99 seconds, would have been seen from a spot in the Atlantic southwest of Liberia.

Read Kelley Beatty's summary of reports, HERE.

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