Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Annular Solar Eclipse on January 26, 2009

Annular Solar Eclipse on January 26, 2009

The year 2009 will feature a range of eclipses, starting with an annular solar eclipse on January 26. This particular eclipse will be visible from an area that covers the Indian Ocean and western Indonesia.

This illustration is not to scale and shows a general annular solar eclipse, not the January 2009 eclipse.

Where is the Eclipse Visible?

Sources such as NASA say that the eclipse will be seen in the larger path of the moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the southern third of Africa, Madagascar, many parts of Australia (except Tasmania), south-east India, south-east Asia and Indonesia, on January 26, 2009.
According to Harrington (1997), the cities of Kotabumi and Telukbetung in Indonesia will experience more than six minutes of annularity while Krakatoa (or Krakatau), which will be closer to the shadow’s edge, will experience less than five minutes of annularity. The town of Sampit, in Indonesia’s central Kalimantan province, and Samarinda, the capital of the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan, will witness a lopsided ring-of-fire sunset eclipse as they will be located near the southern extreme of annularity.

The Eclipse’s Path

The annular eclipse’s path first begins in the south Atlantic at 06:06 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when the moon’s antumbral shadow meets Earth and forms a 363-kilometer wide corridor. Traveling eastward, the shadow quickly sweeps south of the African continent, missing it by about 900 kilometers. Slowly curving to the northeast the path crosses the southern Indian Ocean. The image below shows the solar eclipse’s annular path on January 26, 2009. Timeanddate.com also created an animation for this eclipse.

This image shows the solar eclipse’s annular path on January 26, 2009. The different shades of red depict the eclipse's visibility, with the strongest and innermost shade depicting 75 percent visibility, followed by 50 percent visibility, 25 percent visibility, and down to as low as zero percent visibility. The maximum eclipse is visible at various locations.
The point of greatest eclipse, with seven minutes and 54 seconds of annularity, occurs where the Indian Ocean is, about halfway between Madagascar and Australia. It takes place at 07:58:39 UTC. The path width is about 280 kilometers at this point and the sun is 73 degrees above the flat horizon formed by the open ocean.
The central track continues north-east where it finally encounters land in the form of the Cocos Islands and onward to southern Sumatra and western Java in Indonesia. At 09:40 UTC, the central line duration is six minutes and 18 seconds and the sun's altitude at 25 degrees.
In its final minutes, the antumbral shadow cuts across central Borneo and clips the northwestern edge of Celebes before ending just short of Mindanao, Philippines at 09:52 UTC. During a three-hour and 46-minute trajectory across earth, the moon's antumbra travels about 14,500 kilometers and covers 0.9 percent of the planet’s surface area. An antumbra refers to the moon’s “negative” shadow that appears when the moon is on the far side of its orbit and its umbral shadow is not long enough to reach the earth. The eclipse’s partial phases are visible primarily from southern Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.
This is the 50th eclipse of Saros 131. The Saros cycle refers to a period of about 18 years, 11 days and eight hours when eclipses would recur. A number of eclipses occur within the series. The Saros 131 family began with a long series of 22 partial eclipses that started in the northern hemisphere on August 1, 1125.
The first annular eclipse of Saros 131 occurred on August 4, 1720. The series will produce 29 more annular eclipses, with the last of these types of eclipses on June 18, 2243. Saros 131 will finish on September 2, 2369.

Eclipses in 2009

The eclipse set for January 26 is not the only eclipse that will occur in 2009. The list of eclipses for 2009 includes:
  • An annular solar eclipse on January 26.
  • A penumbral lunar eclipse on February 9.
  • A penumbral lunar eclipse on July 7.
  • A total solar eclipse on July 22.
  • A penumbral lunar eclipse on August 6.
  • A partial lunar eclipse on December 31.
Timeanddate.com will provide information about the other eclipses closer to the time of their occurrence and as more details about them come on hand.
Note: Eclipse information courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and P. Harrington, author of Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why & How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses.

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