Super-moon Totally Eclipses the Sun

Mark March 20, 2015 on your calender. If that day rings a bell, you might be pondering the spring equinox – a conclusion worthy of honourable mention yet no blue ribbon because this March equinox is so much more.

In a nutshell, the Earth has a wobbly axis. Twice a year (March and September) the “plane” of Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun, at that point our axis tilts neither away or towards the sun. Imagine a line perpendicular to the equator, a brief time when northern and southern hemispheres are illuminated equally – you have the equinox. Think of it as roughly equal hours of day and night. Due to a blinky wobble in Earth’s axis, this happens at different times each March, roughly on the 20th or 21st.

Lets talk Moon. A super-moon occurs when a new or full moon happens at the “perigee” or closest point of orbit to Earth. 2015 officially has 6 super-moons – new moons in January, February and March, full moons in August, September and October.

Moving on to Sun – a solar eclipse only happens when a new moon passes between Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow on our planet. This conjuncture, or “syzygy” causes the Moon to fully obscure the sun’s “disc”, resulting in shadows cast upon earth.

So we have equinox, super-moon, and solar eclipse – what are the chances of them happening at the same time? If you guessed not very likely, I award you that blue ribbon.

Enter March 20, 2015 – one of those few days when cosmic circumstance delivers. If you miss this one, you’ll have to wait until 2034, 2053, or 2072.

Composite total solar eclipse Aug. 1999 by Fred Espenak.


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