You are hereWhat’s Up - The Sky for July 2009
What’s Up - The Sky for July 2009
By Tony Hoffman
The Great Asian Solar Eclipse. On March 7, 1970, I went with my father to Central Park to watch a solar eclipse. It wasn't quite total from New York, about 96%, but memorable nonetheless. That's as close as I've gotten to seeing a total solar eclipse, but that soon should change. I’m flying to China as part of a Planetary Society tour to witness the solar eclipse of July 22, the longest solar eclipse of the 21st Century. The Moon will be only six hours past perigee at the time of the eclipse, while Earth and Sun will be near their farthest distance apart, so the Moon's apparent size is greater than the Sun’s, allowing the Moon to cover the Sun for a longer period. Maximum eclipse, six minutes 39 seconds, will occur in the Pacific 195 miles east of the famed World War battle site of Iwo Jima. Cruise ships hosting expeditions will gather in that area and may be able to outsail the weather if conditions are unfavorable.
The eclipse will begin at dawn on India's west coast, north of Mumbai, where the Moon's central shadow or umbra will touch down. Indian cities such as Bhopal and Patna will see more than three minutes of totality. Patna, with the best weather prospects in India, still averages 65% cloud cover. The umbra will cross the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The weather should improve when the Moon's shadow reaches China. The cities of Chengdu and Chongqing will see totality, while Wuhan, China's fourth-largest city, will be dark for five minutes 25 seconds. I'll observe from Yanguan southwest of Shanghai. Shanghai, China's largest city with more than 20 million people, will see five minutes of totality. From there the shadow will head out over water, crossing some small Japanese islands. After touching Iwo Jima it will track thousands of miles across the Pacific, with a few small atolls the only land in its path. The U. S. mainland will miss the eclipse. Hawaii will see less than 20% of the Sun eclipsed.
July 3 Earth at aphelion, 94.5 million miles from the Sun.
July 4 Moon lies near Antares.
July 7 Full Moon at 5:21 a.m.; penumbral lunar eclipse.
July 10 Moon lies near Jupiter.
July 14 Venus lies near Aldebaran.
July 15 Last-quarter Moon at 5:53 a.m.
July 18 Moon lies near Mars.
July 21 Moon at perigee, 222,117 miles from Earth, 4:14 p.m.; New Moon at 10:35 p.m.
July 25 Moon lies near Saturn.
July 27 Mars lies near Aldebaran; southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks.
July 28 First-quarter Moon at 6 p.m.
July 31 Moon lies near Antares.