Find August 21 Solar Eclipse View From Any Location

On August 21, 2017 a 70 mile path of solar eclipse totality crosses 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Few of us will be within the filament of total darkness, but hundreds of millions from any location in North America, parts of South America, Europe and Africa can witness a partial solar eclipse. Enter your location in search field on the link below – I will be in Penticton B.C. on August 21. Courtesy the Time and Date link, I can expect a partial eclipse of 87% totality peaking at 10:25 am local time.

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.

October 23, Partial Eclipse of the Sun

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between Earth and the Sun. The moon has “phases” as it travels in a wobbly orbit around Earth. The “light of the Moon” is really just sunlight reflecting off the lunar surface. Depending where the Moon is in relation to the Sun, this light appears to us as new moon, crescent moon, quarter moon, half moon, full moon and so on – the moon orbits Earth once every 29 1/2 days, hence our lunar cycle.

A “new Moon” can’t actually be seen from Earth because the illuminated side points away from us. A solar eclipse can only happen during the new moon phase, and only when the wobbly moon orbit lines up between Earth and the Sun, as to caste a shadow – this is a solar eclipse. Because the Moon’s orbit is tilted 5 degrees to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the “shadow” usually misses Earth.  A couple of times a year the shadow falls on our planet, depending on the angle of orbit and global location, this translates to varying degrees of eclipse.

On October 23, a partial eclipse will dazzle those inclined to notice –  if you reside in the “red zone”, click on the link below the graphic for optimum viewing times and duration.

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Growing up the prospect of a solar eclipse was big news. Granted  the sixties and seventies were different times. I grew up in an age when we all gazed skyward. An era of lunar landings, rockets, and space probes. We sat glued to our B&W televisions as mission control made their final count down. Popular Mechanics magazine was popular and Captain Kirk warped his way across the universe. Quantum physics, string theory, and dark matter were unheard of. Food was cooked on a stove not zapped, telephones were wired to the wall, and  nothing short of joy describes packing away the eight track tape in favour of the cassette.

I realize my ponder is lost on anyone under 40 but there is a relevant point.

The future I used to read about has arrived. It’s not the past that makes me nostalgic, nothing makes me happier than sitting at my computer. What worries me is the disconnect from our world. We all move so fast. The world passes by as the “road trip” is replaced with “all inclusive” vacations. Terror describes the reaction to losing a cell phone, the one device many are incapable of putting aside for even the briefest of moments. Texting not talking has become the preferred means of communication, often the only assurance we have of reaching someone. Coffee shops; once the place to meet and exchange ideas,silent but for the faint tap of keys on Mac Books. We have “friends” we’ve never met, debates with strangers, and fail to recognise the irony when shelling out for the latest self help e-book.

It would be unreasonable to expect the realm of possibility to ever include setting aside our modern tools. There will always be a future, technology is unstoppable. What’s sad is how runaway advances have taken away our ability to dream and imagine.

I can’t think of a better way to charge your spirit or feel restored than to gaze at the sky. The Taurids peaked last night so chances of an earth bound fireball are slim. My suggestion is a good old fashioned eclipse. Unless you live in Australia the next total eclipse of the sun on Nov. 14 isn’t much good. Don’t despair there will be plenty more. Given fair warning you can arrange an “event” to watch it with all your facebook “friends” The only catch – you have to actually go outside and see it for yourself.

Total Solar Eclipse
This photograph shows the total solar eclipse of Oct. 24, 1995, as seen from Dundlod, India.
CREDIT: Fred Espenak/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center