Black Friday’s Secret Solar Eclipse


While many in the U.S. will be recovering from Thanksgiving day meals and looking for ways to stretch their holiday shopping dollars at (hopefully local) retailers’ “Black Friday” sales, the face of the Sun will grow dark as the Moon passes in front of it, casting its shadow over the Earth. But it won’t be visible to American shoppers – or very many people at all, in fact… this eclipse will be hiding in the southern skies above Antarctica!

Visibility of Nov. 25 2011 annular eclipse. NASA GFSC

On Friday, November 25, an annular eclipse will occur, reaching a maximum coverage at 06:20:17 UT of magnitude .905. It will be the largest – and last – partial eclipse of the year.

But its visibility will be limited to the most southern latitudes… outside of the Antarctic continent, only New Zealand, Tasmania and parts of South Africa will have any visibility of the event.

An annular eclipse is similar to a total eclipse, except that the Moon is at a further distance from Earth in its orbit and so does not completely cover the disc of the Sun. Instead a bright ring of sunlight remains visible around the Moon’s silhouette, preventing total darkness.

The next solar eclipse will occur on May 20, 2012. It will also be annular, and even darker than the Black Friday one at a magnitude of .944. It will be visible from China, Japan, the Pacific and Western U.S.

Following that, the main event of 2012 would have to be a total eclipse on November 13, which will be visible from Australia, New Zealand and South America (greatest totality will occur over the South Pacific.) Several sites have already set up group travel events to witness it!

Feeling left out on cosmic occultations? Not to worry… there will be a very visible total lunar eclipse on the night of December 10, 2011 (weather permitting, of course) to viewers across the Northern Hemisphere. The Moon will pass into Earth’s shadow, turning gradually darker in the night sky until it is colored a deep rusty red. It’s a wonderful event to watch, even if not as grandiose as a total eclipse of the Sun.

(Plus it’s completely safe to look at, as opposed to solar eclipses which should never be directly observed without safety lenses or some projection device… for the same reasons that you shouldn’t stare at the Sun normally.)

For a listing of past and future eclipses, both solar and lunar, visit Mr. Eclipse here. And you can read more about the Nov. 25 eclipse on


15 Replies to “Black Friday’s Secret Solar Eclipse”

  1. I do take a little satisfaction about reading about an event on UT that I will see (clouds permitting) and all you Northerners will not 🙂
    Usually it’s the other way around. Hopefully someone around here has some good photo gear to send you some shots… I, alas, do not…

  2. Sigh. When will biassed negativity against non-US astronomy ever end?

    Frankly, one positive…. the well-dressed dinner-suit apparel of all the penguins will likely be very happy. Now they will be able to have a little sleep in the land under perpetual summertime sunlight (bar the regular snowstorms.)

    Also this Thanksgiving, what is that? In my country we know little about it, and don’t celebrate anything like it. The only “thanksgiving” we have here is not having a crazy $15 trillion dollar debt to deal with. Even the Pilgrims that came to America cannot be blamed for that! (most Americans aptly think the debt is just a “turkey shoot.” (The rest of us, though, realise those poor turkeys serve at the dinner do not see this as thanksgiving at all!)

    As for the solar eclipse not being in the US might be a blessing. [At least you will not have to hide under (or in) your beds or under the bedsheets this time!]

    Supportive Facts for this Conclusion

    According to the book “Moon Lore” by Timothy Harley (1885),

    “In America the idea is that the sun and moon are tired when they are eclipsed.” or

    “The common notion amongst ignorant Mahometans is, that an eclipse is caused by some evil spirit catching hold of the sun or moon. On such occasions, in Eastern towns, the whole population assembles with pots, pans, and other equally rude instruments of music, and, with the aid of their lungs, make a din and turmoil which might suffice to drive away a whole army of evil spirits, even at so great a distance.”

    Funny isn’t it. “Black Friday” would be far more appropriate if you were referring to Halloween.

    Perhaps the biggest giggle is from the Mexican mythology (from the same source), where that;

    “The Tlascaltecs, regarding the sun and the moon as husband and wife, believed eclipses to be domestic quarrels. (Probably usually happening around any American dinner tables at family get-togethers) Ribas tells how the Sinaloas held that the moon in an eclipse was darkened with the dust of battle. Her enemy had come upon her, and a terrible fight, big with consequence to those on earth, went on in heaven. In wild excitement the people beat on the sides of their houses, encouraging the moon, and shooting flights of arrows up into the sky to distract her adversary. Much the same as this was also done by certain Californians.”

    Perhaps you Americans should be thankful this eclipse is so very far from your shores. (We wouldn’t want any of them to get really frightened, now would we?) 😮

      1. I don’t see it either… I can only assume SJStar sees the article as Americentric (or whatever the word is) because it mentions an American holiday. Last I checked this was an American website so I don’t know why anyone is surprised.

    1. I don’t think that Slooh has a telescope there. Chilly is in South America, not South Africa.

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