Rob Hawley's Eclipse Page

OK I am addicted.

Total Eclipses

I have seen virtually every eclipse since 1999. This page presents some information on the eclipses I have seen. It also links to the pages that present the photos where I have not taken my own advice and spent time with a camera.  I am listing these most recent first for obvious reasons.

link is track Map
Eclipse Info
Indonesia 16 Eclipse on the Equator
Svalbard 15
Eclipse and Aurora in the Arctic
Africa 13
Spain and West Africa then Eclipse at Sea on the Corinthian
See the Travel Pages

Another TravelQuest success!
Australia 12 Eclipse on the MV Orion near Green Island, Australia
South Seas 10
Capturing the Baily's Beads
We had a successful trip to Easter Island.  This was the first time I ever "saw" Baily's Beads.
China 09
The first time I have been rained on during an eclipse!
See the report on Eclipse Day or view the entire travelogue of our trip to China
Russia 08
Capturing the Shadow of the Moon from Siberia

I watched this eclipse entirely unaided.
Libya 06
Eclipse in the desert

Even after 10 years+ this was my most successful photo expedition.  See the closeups of the eclipse on the Libya 06 Page.
South Seas 05
A short shipboard eclipse from the Paul GauguinAn excellent captain managed to get us our 30 seconds of totality.
Off Africa 02
On board the Marco Polo.  Like in 1999 we had problems.  This time the ship waited until the last minute to race to clear skies.  We didn't make it, but at least the clouds were not too thick.

2nd bad experience on this ship! I do not recommend this ship.  If you are going to view from a ship make sure the eclipse is a priority for them!!
Zambia 01
A wonderful eclipse from a farm north of Lusaka.
Black Sea 99
A wonderfully clear sky, but the captain turned the Marco Polo at the last minute. Oops for all those who had aligned their tripods.
Virginia 70
My first from an airport in Virgina Beach!

I saw the 85+% partial eclipse in 1963,but it was almost 30 years before I got a life (and enough money) to start traipsing around the world.

Partial and Annular

While not as interesting as Total Eclipses both of these events were visible from California.

Partial 14
Partial Solar Eclipse viewed from Home
Nevada 12 Who Shrunk the Moon?
Annular Eclipse in Nevada

Seeing Your First Eclipse?

Eclipse Education

Anyone that is interested in eclipses should consult Fred Espenak's page

When a moon gets between its planet and the sun then the moon casts a shadow on the planet. This is no different from holding your hand in front of you and noticing the shadow on the ground. This shadow is rather complex, but this is discussed below.

Eclipses on the earth were once the subject of shamans and superstition. Even today in many countries well meaning local press put fear into their citizens that sunlight during an eclipse is somehow dangerous. (The extreme stories try to discourage people from looking at the sun before and after totality).

Eclipses happen wherever moons cross in front of the sun. The only other planet that has easily observable eclipses is Jupiter. Jupiter’s moons regularly cross between the planet and the sun.

Sky and Telescope publishes tables of these eclipses each month. Google offers a tool to make predictions on your PC. Many Planetarium programs will also generate predictions on Jupiter Eclipses. The example on the left is from SkyTools Pro V3.

Eclipse Months

However, we are concerned with eclipses on the Earth. Eclipses on the earth are so spectacular because the moon and sun have about the same apparent size in our skies. This allows the moon to mask the brightest parts of the sun while not masking the corona.

There are two “Eclipse Months” each year. During each of these lunations either or both a solar eclipse (when the moon is between the sun and earth) or a lunar eclipse (when the earth is in between) can occur. This variability is due to the way the moon orbits the earth. The plane of the moon’s orbit is tilted by about 5° relative to the plane of the earth’s around the sun. The orientation of the plane is fixed. 12 lunations is not exactly a year so the plane drifts relative to the earth. We all know that because the calendar date of the new moon varies from year to year.

Eclipses can happen when the plane of the moon’s orbit crosses the plane of the earth’s. This happens 24 times each year. However, in only two months of the year is there a chance that the earth, sun, and moon will properly align. At other times the crossing is not oriented correctly. The figure at the left shows how the orbits of the moon and sun intersect during totality. Clicking on the figure will show a brief movie of the eclipse occurring.

In 2008 two solar eclipses will occur (Feb 7 and Aug 1) and two lunar eclipses (Feb 21 and Aug 16). Not every year has all four events. This movie shows the moon's path between Nov 2007 and Aug 2008.  It slows to show the Feb 7 and August 1 eclipses.  At other new moons the moon is above or below the plane of the sun.

Even during these “Eclipse Months” there are no guarantees. One of the caveats is that the orbit of the moon is an ellipse not a circle. Thus the moon is sometimes closer and sometimes further away. If it is just slightly further away the moon will not completely cover the brightest parts of the sun. This causes an “annular” eclipse.

While eclipse addicts such as myself only focus on the area of totality the shadow is more complex. than just a simple shadow. If you look at the shadow of your hand on a sunny day you will notice the edges are indistinct.

Since the sun is not a point source of light, one edge of the sun is illuminating areas that are hidden by the other. Similarly only a narrow band on the earth is fully in the shadow of the moon. In the rest some portion of the sun remains visible. These areas experience a partial eclipse. In 2008 this partial eclipse extended from the center line in Russia all the way to southern France, Greece, and Israel!

The track of the shadow over the earth varies greatly. Since the plane of the moon’s orbit varies relative to the tilt of the earth, and the direction to the sun, the path of totality varies. The path repeats in regular cycles discussed here .

Next US Visible Total Eclipse

Don’t want to travel to exotic locations to see one of these? On August 21, 2017 the track will be accessible by car.  The track will enter the US in Oregon, pass through Idaho and Wyoming into the Midwest. Jay Anderson  recommended Nebraska.

Just want to stay at home in San Jose? You are going to have a wait! The next total eclipse visible from San Jose is in 2252.

Visiting an Eclipse

Eclipses attract a crowd of regulars. Trips tend to book quickly. The two eclipses following the 2017 eclipse will both be in South America ( 2019, 2020). The December 2021 eclipse will be in Antarctica! The logistics will be easier if you go with a group. The two companies I recommend are TravelQuest International and MWT Associates. Others are in the business, but I can personally vouch for these two.



Copyright(c) 2008-2017 Robert J. Hawley Some Rights Reserved.

Images and Text

Copyright(c) 2008-2017 Robert J. Hawley Some Rights Reserved.

rjh 2/15/17