Ring around the sun

Annular (“ring”) Eclipse of the Sun tomorrow – Partial at best for most of Australia, Antarctica comes closest but even that’s just brief and virtually not visible. Slooh.com will cover the event Novel way of detecting asteroid impacts on Earth reveals startling new data AND major clarification about so-called ‘city-killer’ asteroids. Thursday is a cross-quarter day. Philadelphia Science festival is underway and culminates this Saturday also with Science Carnival on the Parkway, including lots of astronomy and Space stuff. Philasciencefestival.org.

April 28, 2014


[Dave Heller] There’s a chance to catch a ring around the moon tomorrow if you’re willing to travel to see it. Let’s book a flight with Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute. And Derrick, on second thought, for the distance we’ll need to travel a rocket ship might be best.

[Derrick Pitts] It is a rocket ship that would really do the trick for us because if we’re in Earth orbit, low Earth orbit, we have a much better chance at being able to see the annularity or the ring eclipse-effect where the moon slides between the Earth and the sun. The moon is just slightly farther away from Earth than usual. That means that the angle that subtends in the sky is slightly smaller than that of the sun, so we don’t get what’s called a full total solar eclipse. We have an annular eclipse in which a ring of sunlight surrounds the moon.

So this is a type of partial eclipse?

This is a type of partial eclipse. Sure, the typical partial eclipse is what people will see on the ground in Australia, where 50% to 55% of the sun will be covered by the disc of the moon as the moon slides across the face of the sun. The best place, of course, would be out in space, but as you said that’s a little tough to get to. But if you can make it to Antarctica, you might get a little bit closer. And if you’re in Australia, well, that’s good. However you can actually see it online at a group called slooh.com. They’ll have live coverage of it using a telescope from Australia.

Slooh comes in handy for that, but no need for their avail if you want to catch planets and stars in our neighborhood this week.

Yeah, we have a lot of great stuff to see in our neighborhood. Of course, in the evening sky there’s Jupiter that’s over on the western side of the sky just after sunset. Over on the eastern side of the sky at the same time we find Mars is already above the horizon. And just a few hours later, Saturn makes its appearance over in the east too. So we have the three planets in the evening. You can actually switch your times around so you can catch it in the early morning hours before sunrise, say 5:30 – 6 a.m., where you’ll find Mars over in the west with Saturn a little bit to the south, and then brilliant Venus over on the eastern side of the sky, rising just before the sun.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal