Jul 21 2009 Tue
2:11 am PHT
The solar eclipse that will occur this Wednesday, July 22, is quite remarkable in some respects. First of all, this eclipse will be the longest total solar eclipse in this century—a longer one won’t occur until 2132. The longest duration of totality will be 6′39″ and the reason why this eclipse is long is because the Earth is near aphelion and the Moon is near perigee. This means that the Sun will appear at its smallest and the Moon at its largest. (It’s very easy to imagine that a large circle moving in front of a smaller circle will cover the smaller circle longer than if the two circles were nearer to each other in size.)
Secondly, this eclipse will be visible to a significant proportion of humanity since it traverses India and China, with Shanghai as the most notable city in the path of totality. There has already been a boom in tourism in the areas and cities on the path of totality with many people booking tours to India and China. Outside totality, a large swath of East and Southeast Asia will only see a partial solar eclipse.
Unfortunately, the Philippines is not in the path of the totality and so we will only see a partial eclipse. In Metro Manila, the time of greatest cover will be at around 9:45 a.m. and the Moon will cover approximately 40% of the Sun’s disc. But don’t expect anything dramatic; the Sun is so bright that any partial solar eclipse won’t darken the sky noticeably. Also, remember not to look directly at the Sun even with shades on!
At the top of the post is a depiction of the partial solar eclipse (as seen in Metro Manila) in Stellarium. But, given the weather we’ve been having lately, there’s a fair chance that it’ll be cloudy or even rainy. Here’s hoping that it’ll be sunny that morning.
Anyway, I want to see a total solar eclipse before I die! The last time a total solar eclipse passed through the Philippines was back on March 18, 1988. Unfortunately, the totality then passed through Mindanao only and I wasn’t able to see it. The next one will be on April 20, 2042 but I’ll be 61 by then! So if I want to see one anytime soon, the only option is to travel.
Update: Check out my pathetic attempt to photograph the eclipse using a cellphone camera.