Friday’s Total Solar Eclipse can be Watched on the Internet

Article written: 28 Jul , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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If you’ve ever wanted to see a solar eclipse, this might be the time to do it. It is a very rare chance to see an eclipse at totality because the Moon’s shadow is so small and, more often than not, it falls on sparsely populated regions of the planet. Often eclipse hunters are resigned to planning expensive trips to these locations, sometimes only to be disappointed by poor weather. But there’s an answer. This Friday’s eclipse will swing over Canada, the tip of Greenland, parts of Russia, China and Mongolia, including the Gobi desert, although nothing can replace actually travelling to one of these locations to witness this celestial event, NASA will transmit the eclipse live over the Internet. Excellent, now we can do some eclipse-chasing without leaving our armchairs…

Back in 1999, the south of the UK was fortunate to witness a total solar eclipse. I remember the excitement this caused on August 11th during that short British summer. Totality could be experienced in the southern-most county of Cornwall, but my hometown, Bristol, would see more than 90% totality. Although it wasn’t perfect, I decided to stay at home as the weather forecast for Cornwall wasn’t good, Bristol was better. Ultimately I wanted to see the “diamond ring” of the edge of the Sun peaking over the limb of the Moon. So, I kitted myself out. I constructed a rudimentary eclipse projector with a pair of binoculars and purchased a new tripod for my camera so I could photograph the projected image via the binocular set-up. I was good to go. But as with all British summers, I couldn’t rely on the weather. It turned out the weather front that was forecast for Cornwall had blown north ahead of schedule, blanketing my city and most of Cornwall. Alas, the eclipse was wasted on most of mainland Britain…

Path of totality on Friday (NASA)

Path of totality on Friday (NASA)

That’s the problem with trying to view the eclipse, often it will be in the wrong location at the right time, or the right location at the wrong time. Of course many eclipse hunters have luck on their side and are able to enjoy totality with clear skies, but for most of us have to make do with photos and videos taken by other people after the event. Not quite the same.

This Friday’s eclipse will be like most others, but this time it will start in Canada, pass over Greenland, Russia, China and Mongolia. If you are based in the USA, you might catch a glimpse of the event at sunrise in northeastern Maine. However, dedicated eclipse chasers like NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak will be travelling to northern China to witness the event. But it hasn’t been easy. As the Olympics are starting next week in Beijing, travel expenses have sky-rocketed, plus fuel prices can only make things worse. Many Chinese eclipse tours can cost $3,000-$6,000 and if you fancied a trip to the High Arctic on a Russian icebreaker, expect to pay $23,000.

So we don’t miss out, NASA will be transmitting the live eclipse (presumably via their homepage www.nasa.gov) starting well before its peak at 7:09 am EDT. Also, museums like the Exploratorium in San Francisco have special eclipse events scheduled so we can all have the chance of seeing the event as it happens. Again, it’s not the same as experiencing it yourself, but at least you can guarantee clear skies via the Internet…

Source: AP


12 Responses

  1. Hunnter says

    “However, dedicated eclipse chasers like NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak will be travelling to northern China to witness the event”
    Why??
    Doesn’t he *live* in USA *and* work for NASA?

    “Hello Houston, are ye there? Turns out that, believe it or not, Canada is actually closer. In fact, it is actually touching us…. This might be a problem.”

  2. Jon Hanford says

    Better weather and eclipse circumstances( solar elevation & eclipse duration ) are probably why Dr. Espenak is traveling to China for this eclipse.

  3. Afthought says

    For spreading the word, it would be helpful if your articles had a “share button” that included Facebook and Yahoo. Buzz.

  4. Hunnter says

    But they control the weather!
    Seriously though, for clear weather, they could spread that compound, forgot the name of it, but it causes rain. (think it contains silverS)
    But it will probably cost alot of money anyway.

  5. AshenLoser says

    oh really? wow. I’m going to have to save the video so I can watch it later. oh wait…

  6. Dankwa says

    Wow! I wish I was there. I am Ghanaian and experienced the eclipse on 29th March in Accra. It was absolutely terrific.

    I’d give anything to see Bailey’s Beads again, and again, and again…….

  7. Jon Hanford says

    @ Hunnter, even if the sky was perfectly clear, totality occurs with the sun close to the horizon(w-poor atmospheric seeing conditions) & duration of totality is much shorter. As for cloud seeding, even if possible and/or economical, why not try it where totality is longest. I was fortunate enough to see the 1972 total eclipse in Canada, where torrential rain plagued observations until minutes before totality, where the clouds suddenly parted & we were treated to an unobscured view of 2.5 minutes of precious totality. Unlike anything most people have ever witnessed in their lifetimes. Totality fever!

  8. Another group that’s doing a webcast is from the University of North Dakota. They are in Xian, China. Their website is:
    http://sems1.cs.und.edu/~sems/index.php

  9. Sometimes people use eclipse events to organize travel to places they want to see, so it can be a combo attraction of a new place and the eclipse.

    I won’t be traveling, but I’m glad to find out about the webcam views. Thanks for the links!

  10. joel fisler says

    sitting in zhongwei somewhere in ningxia, china. not many tourists here, i think we are nearly the only westernern in this city. its in the middle of the desert but its raining like hell. thats not fair. tomorrow should be better though… lets hope so…

    rain in the desert… i thought thats what deserts are all about: no rain and a lot of sun 🙁

  11. Alejandro says

    Cool!
    This will be very interesting I remember the solar eclipse in México some years ago, I’ll see by internet

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