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Total Solar Eclipse on July 22, 2009 July 22, 2009

Posted by misskblog in Astronomy.
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On Wednesday, July 22nd, a total solar eclipse will take place.  The thought of this eclipse takes me back to my years in junior high when our teacher prepared us for an upcoming solar eclipse.  It was to take place during a school day in either around 1993   and everyone was excited about this fantastic astronomical event.  We made pinhole eclipse viewers using shoe boxes and black paper and every student got a pair of solar glasses to wear so that we could lie on our backs and stare up at the sky waiting for just the right moment.  I will never forget the hush that came over the area as the moon crossed in front of the Sun.  Everything on the playground and school yard went very dim and things got very quiet.  Birds even stopped chirping, confused by the lack of daylight.  What an amazing and teachable moment!

The upcoming solar eclipse will not, however, be able to be seen from North America.  It will take place in a narrow swath that goes across half the Earth.  At sunrise on July 22, 2009, the moon’s umbra—the cone-shaped part of the moon’s shadow—will fall on India’s Gulf of Khambhat.  The path of the moon’s umbral shadow will then cross through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. The cities in China that will see the total eclipse of the Sun are as follows: Beijing, Wulumuqi, Changchun, Xining, Xi’an, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing, Hong Kong, and Kunming.  In Nepal the sun will be totally eclipsed in Biratnagar.  In Taiwan, there will be a partial eclipse of the Sun in Taipei. And in Mongolia, it will be seen from Ulaanbaatar.  Japan has partially eclipsed sun in Sapporo, Tokyo and Fukuoka.  After leaving mainland Asia, the path crosses Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean.  A partial eclipse will also be seen within the much broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow, which includes most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean.


This solar eclipse is the longest total solar eclipse that will occur in the twenty-first century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132.  Totality will last for up to 6 minutes and 39 seconds, with the maximum eclipse occurring in the ocean at 02:35:21 UTC about 100 km south of the Bonin Islands, southeast of Japan. The umbra travels along a track that is about 15,150km (about 9414 miles) long and covers 0.71 percent of the earth’s surface area over a course of three hours and 25 minutes.  The North Iwo Jima island is the landmass with totality time closest to maximum.

The Times of India publication was urging its readers to get out and enjoy the eclipse, as it will be the last one visible for quite some time.  The next total solar eclipse that can be viewed from India will occur on June 3, 2114.  As a teacher now myself I would love the opportunity to share this awe-inspiring display with my students.  That will be some time from now, as the next total eclipse that can be seen from North America is predicted to be on August 21, 2017.  I guess that will give me plenty of time to prepare my students!