Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017

TV-76 image of March 20, 2015 Solar Eclipse from Norway. J.M.Pasachoff.

After the penumbral eclipse of the new moon on February 11th, we have an Annular Solar Eclipse just a half-lunar-cycle later. Unlike the lunar eclipse, this one will need proper filtering to observe naked eye or through scopes. The eclipse is annular because only the central part of the sun is obscured, leaving a thin ring (annulus) of light around the edge. This happens because the moon’s orbit brings it closer and further from the earth — so its angular size from earth can vary from 29.4-arc-minutes to 33.5-arc-minutes. The size of the sun hardly varies from 32-arc-minutes due to the small eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Thus, the moon can appear to be bigger or smaller than the sun according to the circumstances.

Eclipse map courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

The band of totality is deep in the southern hemisphere and will cross over very little land. Its path starts off the Pacific coast of southern Chile, crosses Chile to Argentina, then the South Atlantic, and ends bisecting Angola and entering the southern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The partial phases are visible from land areas including half the  Antarctica to the south, north to southern Peru, most of Bolivia, Brazil south of the Amazon, the southern part of West Africa to the north, with the eastern boundary clipping Madagascar.  The greatest duration is about 1’22” in the south Pacific with partial phases lasting some hours.

A small, properly filtered refractor like the TV-76 or TV-85 with a Sol-Searcher is perfect for eclipse travel. Also consider using a FoneMate™ on your Tele Vue eyepiece to record the event on your smart phone.

Sol-Searcher makes it easy to find the sun.