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Total Solar Eclipse, 1st August 2008



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Eclipse description

On Friday, August 1 of this year, a total eclipse will be visible from within a narrow corridor, which traverses half the Earth. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in northern Canada, extends across Greenland and the Arctic Ocean passing near the North Pole first, and Central Russia and part of Mongolia later. It ends at China. A partial eclipse will be seen within a much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the Northeast of America, Asia and a great part of Europe.


The central eclipse track begins in northern Canada, where the Moo's umbral shadow first touches down on Earth at 9:21 UT. Along sunrise terminator, the duration is 1 minute 30 seconds from the center of the 206-kilometre wide path. Travelling over 0.6 km/s, the umbra quickly leaves the american continent and races across several islands to Greenland, from where it leaves at 9:38 UT. After passing near the North Pole, the umbra moves to the South, arriving to the coast of Novaya Zemlya at 10:00, whith a totality duration of 2 minuntes 23 seconds, and to the continent 10 minutes later.

The moment of the maximum takes place at 10:21:07 UT, when the axis of the Moon's shadow pass as near as possible from the centre of the Earth (gamma** = +0.8307). Totality arrives to its maximum duration of 2 min 27 sec, the altitude of the Sun is 34°, the path of totality is 237 km wide and the velocity is 0.507 km/s.

During the next hour, the shadow traverses Central Russia and arrives to the city of Novosivirisk, where the central duration is 2 min 18 sec, at 10:45 UT. Finally, the umbral path follows the border between China and Mongolia to finish its path in Central China at 11:21 UT.


*The moment of maximum is when the distance between the axis of the Moon's shadow and the centre of the Earth are the nearest they can be in a given eclipse. In spite of the moment of maximum is slighly different from the moment of maximum magnitude and the moment of maximum duration (for total eclipses), the differencies are generally very small.

**Gamma is the minimum distance from the axis of the Moon's shadow to the centre of the Earth measured in equatorial terrestrial radii.

(Visibility maps from F. Espenak, NASA/GSFC)

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