EDUCATION: Chasing Shadows

Science  15 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5562, pp. 1979a
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5562.1979a

Known as the diamond ring, an incandescent bulge and faint halo signal the approach of totality during a solar eclipse and the disappearance of the sun behind the moon. The next chance to see a diamond ring in person comes this December, when the moon's shadow will sweep across southern Africa and Australia. To learn more about past or future eclipses, drop by this NASA site created by Fred Espenak, an aficionado who photographed his first eclipse 32 years ago in North Carolina. Maps chart the trajectory of every solar and lunar eclipse since 1951 and provide projected paths for future events through 2050. Other tidbits include a list of historical blackouts, such as the total eclipse in the 12th century B.C.E. that figures in Homer's Odyssey. For background on orbital choreography, the site links to a primer that explains the difference between lunar (Earth's shadow obscures the moon) and solar (the moon blocks the sun) eclipses and showcases more than 30 years' worth of Espenak's striking photos.

sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html

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