Amazing views from Earth and space of this week’s rare hybrid solar eclipse.
This week’s solar eclipse didn’t disappoint, as eclipse chasers flocked to the path Thursday on April 20th, for some amazing views. This was a rare hybrid solar eclipse, with an annular path along one part of the track, and totality along another. Only seven such eclipses occur this century.
The path crossed the Indian Ocean, touching a small corner on northwestern Australia and the island nations of Indonesia and East Timor, before heading out into the Pacific. Skies were mostly clear, and lucky eclipse chasers were treated to just over a minute of totality. Millions more were in the larger footprint for a partial solar eclipse, from New Zealand to southern Japan.
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This was this first eclipse for 2023. NASA hosted a live stream of this week’s hybrid solar eclipse from near Exmouth, Australia starting at 10:30 pm EDT Wednesday, April 19th (2:30 UT Thursday, April 20th)
The USAF’s Learmonth Solar observatory near Exmouth (part of the worldwide solar observing Global Oscillation Network Group GONG network) also saw a minute of totality. The Port-aux-Français station & Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean were also well-placed to see a bizarre ‘rising devil horns’ eclipse at sunrise, though there’s no word as of yet if skies were clear at sunrise.
Tracking the Shadow
Here’s something else very cool: Japan’s Himawari-8 weather satellite captured this amazing view of the shadow of the Moon crossing the Indian Ocean, Australia, Indonesia, and into the Pacific early today, during today’s unique hybrid annular-total solar eclipse.
We typically get views of solar eclipses from space-borne assets, to include Earth-monitoring weather satellites, the DSCOVR climate satellite, and solar observatories to include the European Space Agency’s Proba-2, Japan’s Hinode and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The eclipse-geek in me loves the fact that you can actually see the sub-solar point for the eclipse reflected off of the Pacific in the animation.
Tales of Totality
Long-time eclipse chaser Patrick Poitevin caught totality from the island of Kosrae in Micronesia. “The weather was (despite rain and cloudy forecast) good… just some hazy clouds now and then. (I) stayed and observed 3-kilometers north of the northern line. And what a show! The Baily’s beads and chromosphere were mesmerizing, nearly 360 degrees around chromosphere. Very spectacular and could not keep my eye off the hydrogen alpha telescope to watch. So no time to see if I could see any inner corona. Tried to spot Venus, Jupiter, Mercury or Mars before and after, though hazy clouds did not allow.”
“We saw a stunning array of prominences during totality, including a beautiful and delicate arch prominence.” Eclipse chaser and cartographer Michael Zieler told Universe Today. “I spoke with several eclipse veterans on board the Pacific Explorer and we agreed this eclipse served the best prominences since 1991! The corona displayed a beautiful symmetric set of petals, typical for solar maximum.”
One veteran eclipse-chaser Paul Maley led a group to watch the event from a unique location: the Montebello island group off the coast of Australia.
To Chase an Eclipse
“I was occupied mainly by insuring the 66 people on my chartered ship saw the eclipse.” Mauley told Universe Today. “Having encountered Cyclone Ilsa and two nearby earthquakes while we were there, seeing the eclipse looked to be nearly impossible. Some months ago I had cataract surgery and had my eyes adjusted for far vision. This was the first visual test of being able to see the eclipse during totality. It was great.”
“Such clarity that I never had before. I and 55 of my group were at sea during the eclipse; I had sent 15 others to a small island called Au Chong that I had surveyed the previous day. The ship was experiencing 45 knot winds but I was able to come up with a strategy to mitigate the wind with agreement from Captain Simon. The strategy worked and all photographers were able to get excellent shots during the partial phases and totality. Not one cloud seen all day. But the day before and now today –the day after, we are seeing clouds.”
Amateur astronomer Greg Redfren was aboard Insight Cruises in Exmouth Peninsula Bay for a fine view of the hybrid solar eclipse. “Even though totality was just 62 seconds, this Hybrid Total Eclipse was, well, out of this world! Prominences were plainly visible in my iPhone pics and the convoluted corona was mesmerizing to the eye. ON TO 2024!”
And there’s more to come. This week’s eclipse was the last featuring totality until next year: North America is about to get ‘eclipse fever’ with two fine events crisscrossing the continent in less than a year: An annular eclipse on October 14th, 2023 and another total solar eclipse on April 8th 2024.
Congrats to eclipse chasers, and onward to 2024!