WHAT TO DO IF YOU COULDN’T TRAVEL TO THE PATH OF TO­TAL­ITY

Missed ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the main event? Fear not, here are some al­ter­na­tives

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Science -

FIND THE ECLIPSE ON­LINE

NASA or­gan­ised a four-hour Eclipse Me­gaCast across mul­ti­ple plat­forms. The Me­gaCast was streamed live by NASA TV (nasa.gov/mul­ti­me­dia/ nasatv), as well as by all PBS sta­tions in the US. “The eclipse has a nar­row path and there’s only so many uni­ver­si­ties it goes through, and we’re close to the point of great­est du­ra­tion” said Bob Baer of South­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity’s physics de­part­ment in Carbondale, which was cho­sen by NASA to host a large-scale broad­cast and stream from their cam­pus. Baer is the or­gan­iser for eclipse events at Carbondale – which en­joyed to­tal­ity for two min­utes and 38 sec­onds. The public ob­serv­ing event was held in the Saluki Sta­dium, and out­side there was a stu­dio from where the broad­cast was sent around the world.

PLAN A VISIT TO THE SOUTH PA­CIFIC, CHILE OR AR­GENTINA

The ques­tion af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the to­tal­ity on 21 Au­gust 2017: when is the next eclipse? The an­swer is 2 July 2019, when a total so­lar eclipse crosses the South Pa­cific (just north of Pit­cairn Is­land), Chile’s Elqui Val­ley, and the Ar­gen­tinian Pam­pas. The Euro­pean South­ern Observatory’s La Silla site will be thrown un­der the Moon’s shadow. On 26 De­cem­ber 2019 there is an eclipse across the Ara­bian penin­sula, In­dia and Sin­ga­pore, but this time it’s an an­nu­lar eclipse, which means the Moon will be fur­thest away from Earth in its el­lip­ti­cal or­bit. This means the Moon doesn’t block the Sun com­pletely, so there’s no to­tal­ity but a ‘ring of fire’ eclipse in­stead.

SOME SET­TLED FOR A GLIMPSE OF A PAR­TIAL ECLIPSE

Al­though a total so­lar eclipse was vis­i­ble only to those within the path of to­tal­ity, peo­ple all over the con­ti­nen­tal US – as well as Mex­ico, Canada and in the Caribbean – were able to view a par­tial so­lar eclipse. For in­stance, New York City and Los An­ge­les saw a 71 per cent and 68 per cent eclipse, re­spec­tively. Denver and Seat­tle both got a 92 per cent ‘deep par­tial’ eclipse.

Low­ell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ari­zona held an event to view a 70 per cent par­tial eclipse through so­lar tele­scopes. But you can eas­ily do some sci­ence in your back­yard. When the Sun is eclipsed more than about 50 per cent, hold up a colan­der, or any­thing with well-de­fined holes, in front of some white card to see pro­jec­tions of tiny cres­cent Suns.

MOVE TO AUS­TRALIA

While total so­lar eclipses are not par­tic­u­larly rare (they hap­pen about once ev­ery 18 months some­where on the planet), any one lo­ca­tion should sta­tis­ti­cally not ex­pect more than one ev­ery 375 years. Aus­tralia mas­sively bucks that trend in the 2020s and 2030s with a stun­ning five total so­lar eclipses in just 15 years. It be­gins in 2023 when Ex­mouth Penin­sula in Western Aus­tralia – fa­mous for whale sharks and hump­back whales – is grazed by to­tal­ity. But it gets bet­ter. In 2028 a so­lar eclipse will cross Aus­tralia, and those in Sydney will get an un­be­liev­able four min­utes of to­tal­ity. “It’s an­other eclipse in my home and I can­not wait!” says Dr Kate Russo, an Aus­tralian-born psy­chol­o­gist who stud­ies peo­ple’s re­ac­tions to watch­ing to­tal­ity. Aus­tralians will ex­pe­ri­ence to­tal­ity again in 2030, 2037 and 2038.

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