Don't Forget the Partial Eclipse!
Don't Forget the Partial Eclipse!
10, 1999: This week's total eclipse won't be visible from North
America, although it's a close call. The darkest part of the Moon's shadow, called the "umbra",
touches down on Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. EDT
about 430 miles east of New York City. In the
western Atlantic, totality will last a mere 47 seconds
as the path of totality
races eastward across the ocean toward its first landfall
The maritime provinces of Canada and the east coast of the USA
could experience interesting shadow effects from the partial eclipse near sunrise.
Right: This image created by Sky & Telescope magazine shows the details of the partial eclipse in North America on August 11, 1999. Copyright: Sky & Telescope. All rights reserved. Click to view a larger image.
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In places like New York where a large fraction of the Sun will be occulted by the Moon just before sunrise, the eclipse could have an effect on the morning twilight. The sky could look especially strange if any thin cirrus is present along the eastern horizon. The possibility of unusual lighting around sunrise is explored further in a Sky & Telescope article "The Eclipse Outside Totality" by Joe Rao.
While a partial solar eclipse is not nearly so dramatic as a total eclipse, it is still worth observing. The primary consideration when viewing the Sun should always be eye safety. Serious eye damage can result from a brief glimpse of the Sun, even when it is almost completely obscured by the Moon. One safe way to observe a partial eclipse is by projecting the image of the sun through a telescope or binoculars onto a white screen, a paper plate, or some other surface. In the case of a telescope, make sure that any small finder telescope is capped, and keep the cover on one half of the binoculars. Be sure not to look through the telescope to point it at the Sun -- partial or total blindness will almost surely result.
On the screen you should see a bright circle of light, which will probably be blurred. Focus the instrument until the circle is sharp. This is the disc of the Sun itself. If the eclipse is in progress you should see the Moon as a dark bite out of one edge. Using this method it is also possible to see considerable detail in and around sunspot groups. Pinhole projectors and certain types of solar filters also provide a means of watching a partial eclipse safely.
for lesson plans and activities related to the August 11, 1999 total solar eclipse.
For more information about the August 11, 1999 solar eclipse, please see Goddard Space Flight Center's Solar Eclipse home page. Also, please visit Science@NASA's EclipseCast.com for sights, sounds, and science news from the August 11 total eclipse.
Decrypting the Eclipse - August 6, 1999, scientsts around the world explore the possible and mysterious effect of eclipses on the motion of Foucault's pendulum.
There goes the Sun - August 5, 1999, features general information about the August 11, 1999 solar eclipse, including the effect of eclipses on the birds and the bees, and eclipses on other planets.
Audio eclipse may fill the sky - August 4, 1999 story on investigations of ionization and radio propagation in Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse
Peering through a Hole in the Sky - June 17, 1999 story on exotic gravity measurements to be carried out during the eclipse
Partial Eclipse predictions for North America - from Sky & Telescope
Worldwide Partial Eclipse predictions - from Sky & Telescope
The Millennium's Last Solar Eclipse -- from Sky &Telescope
Solar Eclipse Home Page -- at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Total Eclipses of the Sun, J.B. Zirker, 1995, Princeton University Press
The Sun in Eclipse, Michael Maunder and Patrick Moore, 1998, Springer-Verlag
Totality: Eclipses of the Sun, Mark Littmann, Ken Willcox and Fred Espanek, 1999, Oxford University Press
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