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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Lunar eclipse

lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon. The type and length of an eclipsedepend upon the Moon's location relative to its orbital nodes. Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a certain relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of the Earth. A lunar eclipse lasts for a few hours, whereas a total solar eclipse lasts for only a few minutes at any given place, due to the smaller size of the moon's shadow. Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are no brighter (indeed dimmer) than the full moon itself.

Types of lunar eclipse

Schematic diagram of the shadow cast by the Earth. Within the centralumbra shadow, the Moon is totally shielded from direct illumination by the Sun. In contrast, within thepenumbra shadow, only a portion of sunlight is blocked.
As seen by an observer on Earth on the imaginary celestial sphere, the Moon crosses the ecliptic every orbit at positions called nodes twice every month. When the full moon occurs in the same position at the node, a lunar eclipse can occur. These two nodes allow two to five eclipses per year, parted by approximately six months. (Note: Not drawn to scale. The Sun is much larger and farther away than the Moon.)
total penumbral lunar eclipsedims the moon in direct proportion to the area of the sun’s disk blocked by the earth. This comparison shows the southern shadow penumbral lunar eclipse of January 1999 (left) to the same moon outside of the shadow (right) demonstrates this subtle dimming.
The shadow of the Earth can be divided into two distinctive parts: the umbra and penumbra. Within the umbra, there is no direct solar radiation. However, as a result of the Sun’s large angular size, solar illumination is only partially blocked in the outer portion of the Earth’s shadow, which is given the name penumbra. A penumbral eclipseoccurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s penumbra. The penumbra causes a subtle darkening of the Moon's surface. A special type of penumbral eclipse is a total penumbral eclipse, during which the Moon lies exclusively within the Earth’s penumbra. Total penumbral eclipses are rare, and when these occur, that portion of the Moon which is closest to the umbra can appear somewhat darker than the rest of the Moon.
partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the Moon enters the umbra. When the Moon travels completely into the Earth’s umbra, one observes a total lunar eclipse. The Moon’s speed through the shadow is about one kilometer per second (2,300 mph), and totality may last up to nearly 107 minutes. Nevertheless, the total time between the Moon’s first and last contact with the shadow is much longer, and could last up to 4 hours.[1] The relative distance of the Moon from the Earth at the time of an eclipse can affect the eclipse’s duration. In particular, when the Moon is near its apogee, the farthest point from the Earth in its orbit, its orbital speed is the slowest. The diameter of the umbra does not decrease appreciably within the changes in the orbital distance of the moon. Thus, a totally eclipsed Moon occurring near apogee will lengthen the duration of totality.
The timing of total lunar eclipses are determined by its contacts:[2]
P1 (First contact): Beginning of the penumbral eclipse. The Earth's penumbra touches the Moon's outer limb.
U1 (Second contact): Beginning of the partial eclipse. The Earth's umbra touches the Moon's outer limb.
U2 (Third contact): Beginning of the total eclipse. The Moon's surface is entirely within the Earth's umbra.
Greatest eclipse: The peak stage of the total eclipse. The Moon is at its closest to the center of the Earth's umbra.
U3 (Fourth contact): End of the total eclipse. The Moon's outer limb exits the Earth's umbra.
U4 (Fifth contact): End of the partial eclipse. The Earth's umbra leaves the Moon's surface.
P2 (Sixth contact): End of the penumbral eclipse. The Earth's shadow no longer makes any contact with the Moon.


selenelion or selenehelion occurs when both the Sun and the eclipsed Moon can be observed at the same time. This can only happen just before sunset or just after sunrise, and both bodies will appear just above the horizon at nearly opposite points in the sky. This arrangement has led to the phenomenon being referred to as a horizontal eclipse. There are typically a number of high ridges undergoing sunrise or sunset that can see it. Indeed, the reddened light that reaches the Moon comes from all the simultaneous sunrises and sunsets on the Earth. Although the Moon is in the Earth’s umbra, the Sun and the eclipsed Moon can both be seen at the same time because therefraction of light through the Earth’s atmosphere causes each of them to appear higher in the sky than their true geometric position.[3]
The Moon does not completely disappear as it passes through the umbra because of the refraction of sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere into the shadow cone; if the Earth had no atmosphere, the Moon would be completely dark during an eclipse. The red coloring arises because sunlight reaching the Moon must pass through a long and dense layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, where it is scattered. Shorter wavelengths are more likely to be scattered by the air molecules and the small particles, and so by the time the light has passed through the atmosphere, the longer wavelengths dominate. This resulting light we perceive as red. This is the same effect that causes sunsets andsunrises to turn the sky a reddish color; an alternative way of considering the problem is to realize that, as viewed from the Moon, the Sun would appear to be setting (or rising) behind the Earth.
The amount of refracted light depends on the amount of dust or clouds in the atmosphere; this also controls how much light is scattered. In general, the dustier the atmosphere, the more that other wavelengths of light will be removed (compared to red light), leaving the resulting light a deeper red color. This causes the resulting coppery-red hue of the Moon to vary from one eclipse to the next. Volcanoes are notable for expelling large quantities of dust into the atmosphere, and a large eruption shortly before an eclipse can have a large effect on the resulting color.

Danjon scale

The following scale (the Danjon scale) was devised by AndrĂ© Danjon for rating the overall darkness of lunar eclipses:[4]
L=0: Very dark eclipse. Moon almost invisible, especially at mid-totality.
L=1: Dark eclipse, gray or brownish in coloration. Details distinguishable only with difficulty.
L=2: Deep red or rust-colored eclipse. Very dark central shadow, while outer edge of umbra is relatively bright.
L=3: Brick-red eclipse. Umbral shadow usually has a bright or yellow rim.
L=4: Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse. Umbral shadow is bluish and has a very bright rim.

Eclipse cycles

Every year there are at least two lunar eclipses, although total lunar eclipses are significantly less common. If one knows the date and time of an eclipse, it is possible to predict the occurrence of other eclipses using an eclipse cycle like the saros.

What causes a Lunar Eclipse ?
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow. Earth always has a shadow, which is created by the Sun. On those rare occasions when the Moon, Earth and the Sun are all lined up just right, the Moon passes through this shadow.This would happen every full moon if the Moon orbited around the Earth in the same plane as the Earth orbits around the Sun. The Moons orbit, however, is tilted about 5 degrees above the Earth-Sun plane. This tilt itself, however, rotates, allowing eclipses to happen when the tilt of this plane lines up with the Earth-Sun plane, blocking sunlight.
An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where some portion of the Sun's rays are blocked. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region devoid of all direct sunlight.
When can one view an eclipse ?
A lunar eclipse is visible over an entire hemisphere and is seen at the same time to everyone who is in sight of the full moon. Because of local time zones, however, the times of a lunar eclipse can span many hours.
How long does an eclipse last ?
Lunar eclipses can last for more than three hours because the Moon and the Earth are moving slowly in relation to each other, and the shadow cast by the Earth is so large. Because of their sizes and the relative distances between the Earth, Moon, and Sun, this shadow is much larger than that cast by the Moon on the Earth (during a solar eclipse).
Are all eclipses the same ?
Although eclipses are always caused by the same general lineup of Sun, Moon, and Earth, each lunar eclipse may have its own unique visual characteristic. Colors and the deepness of the shadow on the surface are affected by the type of eclipse, local weather conditions, atmospheric conditions, and the geographic location of the observer. When the Moon is in the darkest part of Earth's shadow, or in totality, it can have some beautiful colors, usually a dark pastel, such as violet or a very dark apricot.
What are the three types of eclipses?
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse
  • A portion of the Moon passes through the Earth's umbral shadow. These events are easy to see, even with the unaided eye.
  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
  • The Moon passes through the Earth's penumbral shadow. These events are subtle and quite difficult if not impossible to observe. During a penumbral eclipse the moons light is dimmed but does not go dark due to the fact that the penumbral shadow is not dark enough to black out the sun's light. A penumbral eclipse is sometimes referred to as an appulse eclipse.
  • Total Lunar Eclipse
  • The entire Moon passes through the Earth's umbral shadow. During the time of totality the moons color may change to a dull copper tone, an effect caused by earth shine or reflected earth light. The moon can stay in the umbrals shadow for as long as 90 minutes.

    Lunar eclipses occur when Earth's shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. 
    The most recent lunar eclipse was Monday, June 4, 2012. The next lunar eclipse is Nov. 28, 2012. There are three types, with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that. Below, you’ll find the science and history of lunar eclipses, learn how they work, and see a list of the next ones on tap. [See also our guide to Solar Eclipses.]
    This montage of images taken by skywatcher Kieth Burns shows the Dec. 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse. The photos won a NASA contest to become an official NASA/JPL wallpaper for the public.
    CREDIT: NASA/JPL-via Kieth Burns

    What is a Lunar Eclipse?

    Because the moon’s orbit around Earth lies in a slightly different plane than Earth’s orbit around the sun, perfect alignment for an eclipse doesn’t occur at every full moon. A total lunar eclipse develops over time, typically a couple hours for the whole event. Here’s how it works: Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. The initial and final stages — when the moon is in the penumbral shadow — are not so noticeable, so the best part of an eclipse is during the middle of the event, when the moon is in the umbral shadow. [Lunar Eclipse Pictures | More Pictures | And More Pictures]
    Total eclipses are a freak of cosmic happenstance. Ever since the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been inching away from our planet (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). The setup right now is perfect: the moon is at the perfect distance for Earth’s shadow to cover the moon totally, but just barely. Billions of years from now, that won’t be the case.
    Types of lunar eclipses
    • Total lunar eclipse: Earth’s full (umbral) shadow falls on the moon. The moon won’t completely disappear, but it will be cast in an eerie darkness that makes it easy to miss if you were not looking for the eclipse. Some sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere is scattered and refracted, or bent, and refocused on the moon, giving it a dim glow even during totality. If you were standing on the moon, looking back at the sun, you’d see the black disk of Earth blocking the entire sun, but you’d also see a ring of reflected light glowing around the edges of Earth — that’s the light that falls on the moon during a total lunar eclipse.
    • Partial lunar eclipse: Some eclipses are only partial. But even a total lunar eclipse goes through a partial phase on either side of totality. During the partial phase, the sun, Earth and moon are not quite perfectly aligned, and Earth’s shadow appears to take a bite out of the moon.
    • Penumbral lunar eclipse: This is the least interesting type of eclipse, because the moon is in Earth’s faint outer (penumbral) shadow. Unless you’re a seasoned skywatcher, you likely won’t notice the effect.
    The blood-red moon
    The moon may turn red or coppery colored during the total portion of an eclipse. The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth's atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. While other colors in the spectrum are blocked and scattered by Earth’s atmosphere, red light tends to make it through easier. The effect is to cast all the planet's sunrises and sunsets on the moon.
    The moon turned a blood red over the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia in this stunning photo taken by skywatcher George Tucker on June 15, 2011.
    CREDIT: George Tucker

    "The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere," according to NASA scientists. "If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red."
    Christopher Columbus leveraged a blood-red eclipse in 1504 to frighten natives on Jamaica into feeding him and his crew. It was on Columbus’ fourth and final voyage to the New World. An epidemic of shipworms ate holes in the ships of his fleet; Columbus' was forced to abandon two ships. He then beached his last two on Jamaica on June 25, 1503. The natives welcomed the castaways and fed them. But after six months, Columbus’ crew mutinied, and robbed and murdered some of the Jamaicans, who had grown weary of feeding the crew.
    Columbus had an almanac that foretold a lunar eclipse on Feb. 29, 1504. He met the local chief, and told him the Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying food. Columbus said to expect a sign of God’s displeasure three nights later, when He would make the full moon appear "inflamed with wrath." When the blood-red moon came to pass, the natives were terrified and “with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions,” according to an account from Columbus’ son.
    Just before the total phase of the eclipse was about to end, Columbus said God had pardoned the natives and would bring the moon back. The crew was well fed until help arrived in November and Columbus and his men sailed back to Spain.

    When is the next lunar eclipse?
    Here is a schedule of upcoming lunar eclipses:
    Nov. 28, 2012: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: The moon will not be in Earth’s full (umbral) shadow, but rather will pass through the faint (penumbral) shadow. Maximum occurs at 14:33 UT. Viewers will be hard-pressed to notice the shading. Visible from eastern Asia and Australia.
    April 25, 2013: Partial Lunar Eclipse: Visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
    May 25, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas and Africa.
    Oct. 18, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.
    April 15, 2014: Total Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americas, Australia and out in the Pacific Ocean.
    Oct. 8, 2014: Total Lunar Eclipse: Visible from the Americans, Asia, Australia and in the Pacific Ocean.
    This photo of the Dec. 20 total lunar eclipse by Jimmy Westlake shows the blue edge to Earth's shadow set against the reddened moon.
    CREDIT: Jimmy Westlake

    How to Watch a Lunar Eclipse
    Lunar eclipses are among the easiest skywatching events to observe. Simply go out, look up, and enjoy. You don’t need a telescope or any other special equipment. However, binoculars or a small telescope will bring out details in the lunar surface — moonwatching is as interesting during an eclipse as anytime. If the eclipse occurs during winter, bundle up if you plan to be out for the duration — an eclipse can take a couple hours to unfold. Bring warm drinks and blankets or chairs for comfort. [Lunar Eclipse Pictures | More Pictures | And More Pictures]

    Solar Eclipses

    Solar Eclipses for Beginners

    (c) Copyright 2009 by Fred Espenak


    What is an eclipse of the Sun? What causes eclipses and why? How often do eclipses happen and when is the next eclipse of the Sun? You'll learn the answers to these questions and more in MrEclipse's primer on solar eclipses. Before we learn more about the eclipses of the Sun, we need to first talk about the Moon.
    Phases of the Moon
    Phases of the Moon.

    Phases of The Moon

    The Moon is a cold, rocky body about 2,160 miles (3,476 km) in diameter. It has no light of its own but shines by sunlight reflected from its surface. The Moon orbits Earth about once every 29 and a half days. As it circles our planet, the changing position of the Moon with respect to the Sun causes our natural satellite to cycle through a series of phases:
      • New Moon > New Crescent > First Quarter > Waxing Gibbous > Full Moon >
        Waning Gibbous > Last Quarter > Old Crescent > New Moon (again)
    The phase known as New Moon can not actually be seen because the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away from Earth. The rest of the phases are familiar to all of us as the Moon cycles through them month after month. Did you realize that the word month is derived from the Moon's 29.5 day period?
    To many early civilizations, the Moon's monthly cycle was an important tool for measuring the passage of time. In fact many calendars are synchronized to the phases of the Moon. The Hebrew, Muslem and Chinese calendars are all lunar calendars. The New Moon phase is uniquely recognized as the beginning of each calendar month just as it is the beginning on the Moon's monthly cycle. When the Moon is New, it rises and sets with the Sun because it lies very close to the Sun in the sky. Although we cannot see the Moon during New Moon phase, it has a very special significance with regard to eclipses.
    Solar Eclipse Geometry
    Geometry of the Sun, Earth and Moon During an Eclipse of the Sun
    The Moon's two shadows are the penumbra and the umbra.
    (Sizes and distances not to scale)

    The Moon's Two Shadows

    An eclipse of the Sun (or solar eclipse) can only occur at New Moon when the Moon passes between Earth and Sun. If the Moon's shadow happens to fall upon Earth's surface at that time, we see some portion of the Sun's disk covered or 'eclipsed' by the Moon. Since New Moon occurs every 29 1/2 days, you might think that we should have a solar eclipse about once a month. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen because the Moon's orbit around Earth is tilted 5 degrees to Earth's orbit around the Sun. As a result, the Moon's shadow usually misses Earth as it passes above or below our planet at New Moon. At least twice a year, the geometry lines up just right so that some part of the Moon's shadow falls on Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that region.
    The Moon's shadow actually has two parts:

        1. Penumbra

        • The Moon's faint outer shadow.
        • Partial solar eclipses are visible from within the penumbral shadow.

        2. Umbra

        • The Moon's dark inner shadow.
        • Total solar eclipses are visible from within the umbral shadow.
    When the Moon's penumbral shadow strikes Earth, we see a partial eclipse of the Sun from that region. Partial eclipses are dangerous to look at because the un-eclipsed part of the Sun is still very bright. You must use special filters or a home-made pinhole projector to safely watch a partial eclipse of the Sun (see: Observing Solar Eclipses Safely).
    What is the difference between a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse? A lunar eclipse is an eclipse of the Moon rather than the Sun. It happens when the Moon passes through Earth's shadow. This is only possible when the Moon is in the Full Moon phase. For more information, see Lunar Eclipses for Beginners.
    Total Solar Eclipse & Path of Totality
    Total Solar Eclipse and Path of Totality

    Total Solar Eclipses and the Path of Totality

    If the Moon's inner or umbral shadow sweeps across Earth's surface, then a total eclipse of the Sun is seen. The track of the Moon's umbral shadow across Earth is called the Path of Totality. It is typically 10,000 miles long but only about 100 miles wide. It covers less than 1% of Earth's entire surface area. In order to see the Sun become completely eclipsed by the Moon, you must be somewhere inside the narrow path of totality.
    The path of a total eclipse can cross any part of Earth. Even the North and South Poles get a total eclipse sooner or later. Just one total eclipse occurs each year or two. Since each total eclipse is only visible from a very narrow track, it is rare to see one from any single location. You'd have to wait an average of 375 years to see two total eclipses from one place. Of course, the interval between seeing two eclipses from one particular place can be shorter or longer. For instance, the last total eclipse visible from Princeton, NJ was in 1478 and the next is in 2079. That's an interval of 601 years. However, the following total eclipse from Princeton is in 2144, after a period of only 65 years.
    2006 Mar 29 Total Solar Eclipse
    2006 Total Solar Eclipse
    A composite image reveals subtle structure in the Sun's corona.
    (click to see more photos)

    Awesome Totality

    The total phase of a solar eclipse is very brief. It rarely lasts more than several minutes. Nevertheless, it is considered to be one of the most awe inspiring spectacles in all of nature. The sky takes on an eerie twilight as the Sun's bright face is replaced by the black disk of the Moon. Surrounding the Moon is a beautiful gossemer halo. This is the Sun's spectacular solar corona, a super heated plasma two million degrees in temperature. The corona can only be seen during the few brief minutes of totality. To witness such an event is a singularly memorable experience which cannot be conveyed adequately through words or photographs. Nevertheless, you can read more about the Experience of Totality in the first chapter of Totality - Eclipses of the Sun.
    Scientists welcome the total eclipse as a rare opportunity to study the Sun's faint corona. Why is the corona so hot? What causes it to spew massive bubbles of plasma into space through coronal mass ejections? Can solar flares be predicted and what causes them? These major mysteries may eventually be solved through experiments performed at future total eclipses.
    For amateur astronomers and eclipse chasers, an eclipse of the Sun presents a tempting target to photograph. Fortunately, Solar Eclipse Photography is easy provided that you have the right equipment and use it correctly. See MrEclipse's Picks for camera, lens and tripod recommendations. For more photographs taken during previous lunar eclipses, be sure to visit Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery. It's also possible to capture a solar eclipse using a video camcorder.
    The most recent total solar eclipse occurred on March 29, 2006 and was visible from Africa and central Asia. Fred Espenak led a Spears Travel tour to Libya to witness the event. You can see a collection of his photographs at 2006 Eclipse Gallary. Reports (with photos) from some of his earlier eclipse expeditions include 2001 Eclipse in Zambia1999 Eclipse in Turkey1998 Eclipse in Aruba and 1995 Eclipse in India.
    The next two total eclipse of the Sun are both visible from China: 2008 and 2009. Join Fred Espenak on a Spears Travel tour to witness one (or both!) of these spectacular events.
    Annular Solar Eclipse & Path of Annularity
    Annular Solar Eclipse and the Path of Annularity

    Annular Solar Eclipses

    Unfortunately, not every eclipse of the Sun is a total eclipse. Sometimes, the Moon is too small to cover the entire Sun's disk. To understand why, we need to talk about the Moon's orbit around Earth. That orbit is not perfectly round but is oval or elliptical in shape. As the Moon orbits our planet, it's distance varies from about 221,000 to 252,000 miles. This 13% variation in the Moon's distance makes the Moon's apparent size in our sky vary by the same amount. When the Moon is on the near side of its orbit, the Moon appears larger than the Sun. If an eclipse occurs at that time, it will be a total eclipse. However, if an eclipse occurs while the Moon is on the far side of its orbit, the Moon appears smaller than the Sun and can't completely cover it. Looking down from space, we would see that the Moon's umbral shadow is not long enough to reach Earth. Instead, the antumbra shadow reaches Earth.
    The track of the antumbra is called the path of annularity. If you are within this path, you will see an eclipse where a ring or annulus of bright sunlight surrounds the Moon at the maximum phase. Annular eclipses are also dangerous to look directly with the naked eye. You must use the same precautions needed for safely viewing a partial eclipse of the Sun (see: Observing Solar Eclipses Safely).
    Annularity can last as long as a dozen minutes, but is more typically about half that length. Since the annular phase is so bright, the Sun's gorgeous corona remains hidden from view. But annular eclipses are still quite interesting to watch. You can read reports about the annular eclipses of 1999 in Australia and 2003 in Iceland. More recently, visit the 2005 Annular Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery.
    2005 Oct 03 Annular Solar Eclipse
    2005 Annular Solar Eclipse
    This sequence shows the eclipse just before, during and after annularity.
    (click to see more photos)

    The "Oddball" Hybrid Eclipse

    There's one more type of solar eclipse to mention and its a real oddball. Under rare circumstances, a total eclipse can change to an annular eclipse or vice versa along different sections of the eclipse path. This happens when the curvature of Earth brings different points of the path into the umbral (total) and antumbral (annular) shadows, respectively. Hybrid eclipses are sometimes called annular/total eclipses. The last hybrid eclipse was in 2005 and the next one is in 2013.

    Solar Eclipse Frequency and Future Eclipses

    During the five thousand year period 2000 BCE to 3000 CE, planet Earth experiences 11,898 solar eclipses as follows:
    Solar Eclipses: 2000 BCE to +3000 CE
    Eclipse TypeSymbolNumberPercent
    All Eclipses-11898100.0%
    This works out to an average 2.4 eclipses each year. Actually, the number of solar eclipses in a single year can range from 2 to 5. Nearly 3/4 of the time there are 2 eclipses in a year. On the other hand, it is quite rare to have 5 solar eclipses in a single year. The last time it happened was in 1935 and the next time is 2206. Typically there is 1 total eclipse every 1 to 2 years. Although it is possible to have 2 total eclipses in a single year, it is quite rare. Examples of years containing 2 total eclipses are 1712, 1889, 2057 and 2252.
    The table below lists every solar eclipse from 2009 through 2015. Click on the eclipse Calendar Date to see a global map showing where the eclipse is visible from. The Eclipse Type link opens a window showing the path of total and annular eclipses plotted on Google Maps. The Eclipse Magnitude is the fraction of the Sun's diameter covered by the Moon at greatest eclipse. For total and annular eclipses, this value is actually the ratio of the apparent diameters of the Moon to the Sun. The Central Duration lists the duration of totality or annularity at greatest eclipse. The link produces a table of geographic coordinates of the eclipse path. The last column is a brief description of the geographic regions of eclipse visibility. The descriptions in bold are for the paths of total or annular eclipses.
    Eclipses of the Sun: 2009 - 2015
    Calendar DateEclipse TypeEclipse MagnitudeCentral DurationGeographic Region of Eclipse Visibility
    (Link to Global Map)(Link to Google Map)(Link to Path Table)
    2009 Jan 26Annular0.92807m54ss Africa, Antarctica, se Asia, Australia
    [Annular: s Indian, Sumatra, Borneo]
    2009 Jul 22Total1.08006m39se Asia, Pacific Ocean, Hawaii
    [Total: India, Nepal, China, c Pacific]
    2010 Jan 15Annular0.91911m08sAfrica, Asia
    [Annular: c Africa, India, Malymar, China]
    2010 Jul 11Total1.05805m20ss S. America
    [Total: s Pacific, Easter Is., Chile, Argentina]
    2011 Jan 04Partial0.858-Europe, Africa, c Asia
    2011 Jun 01Partial0.601-e Asia, n N. America, Iceland
    2011 Jul 01Partial0.097-s Indian Ocean
    2011 Nov 25Partial0.905-s Africa, Antarctica, Tasmania, N.Z.
    2012 May 20Annular0.94405m46sAsia, Pacific, N. America
    [Annular: China, Japan, Pacific, w U.S.]
    2012 Nov 13Total1.05004m02sAustralia, N.Z., s Pacific, s S. America
    [Total: n Australia, s Pacific]
    2013 May 10Annular0.95406m03sAustralia, N.Z., c Pacific
    [Annular: n Australia, Solomon Is., c Pacific]
    2013 Nov 03Hybrid1.01601m40se Americas, s Europe, Africa
    [Hybid: Atlantic, c Africa]
    2014 Apr 29Annular0.987-s Indian, Australia, Antarctica
    [Annular: Antarctica]
    2014 Oct 23Partial0.811-n Pacific, N. America
    2015 Mar 20Total1.04502m47sIceland, Europe, n Africa, n Asia
    [Total: n Atlantic, Faeroe Is, Svalbard]
    2015 Sep 13Partial0.787-s Africa, s Indian, Antarctica
    Geographic abbreviations (used above): n = north, s = south, e = east, w = west, c = central
    For an extended version of this table, see: Solar Eclipse Preview: 2001-2020.
    The last total solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S.A. occured on Feb. 26, 1979. A total solar eclipse was visible from Hawaii and Mexico on July 11, 1991. The next two total solar eclipses visible from the U.S.A. occur on Aug. 21, 2017 and Apr. 8, 2024.
    2006 Mar 29 Total Solar Eclipse
    2006 Total Solar Eclipse
    This Baily's Beads sequence shows both 2nd and 3rd Contact.
    (click to see more photos)