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Partial Solar Eclipse on the way

Andrew Yee, astronomer
May 13, 2012 — On May 20th, the Sun, Moon and the Earth will all come into exact alignment to create special annular solar eclipse.

Most of Canada sees different magnitudes of the partial eclipse
Most of Canada sees different magnitudes of the partial eclipse

An annular solar eclipse is one of the most spectacular astronomical events most people look forward to observing (safe viewing methods detailed below). However, only a partial eclipse is visible from much of Canada.

An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Sun, the Moon and the Earth all come into an exact alignment and the Moon casts its shadow on the surface of the Earth.

The shadow of the Moon has two zones: the other lighter shadow zone called the penumbra and the inner darker shadow zone called the umbra.

Areas under the penumbra shadow will se various degrees of partial solar eclipse. Only within the very narrow strip on Earth that is directly under the umbra shadow would see the disk of the Moon centered on the Sun.

On May 20th, the three celestial objects come to such an exact alignment. However, the Moon is one day past its furthest distance from Earth this year, so its disk is a bit too small to cover the entire disk of the Sun. The result is a bright ring around the dark disk of the Moon when viewed from areas where the Moon's umbra shadow falls.

Most of Canada sees different magnitudes of a partial eclipse. But many parts of the Maritimes would not see any eclipse at all. For areas between the two orange lines, the eclipse is in progress as the Sun is setting.

Want to view this and all other future solar eclipses? Be sure to follow these three easy steps

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