Help Schoolkids in Africa Participate in November 2013 Eclipse

Astronomers Without Borders – those great folks who do science outreach around the world – is getting ready for the next solar eclipse, which takes place on November 3, 2013. A partial eclipse will be visible across a wide swath of Africa and AWB needs your help so that tens of thousands of eclipse glasses can be sent to schools in Africa in time for the eclipse.

“We’re working with the IAU’s Office of Astronomy for Development who has contacts working with schools and able to distribute the glasses to them,” Mike Simmons, who leads AWB, told Universe Today via email. “The opportunity for this came up late so we’re working very hard to make it happen in the short time we have left.”

Simmons added that this is a rare opportunity to expose students to science in a region where science resources are often non-existent, and AWB will be giving the glasses to schools at no charge.

But they need donations to make that happen. Click here to find out how to help.

Animation of 2013 November 3 solar eclipse. The large gray circle shows the area of the partial solar eclipse. The very small dark dot in the middle depicts the path of the total solar eclipse. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.
Animation of 2013 November 3 solar eclipse. The large gray circle shows the area of the partial solar eclipse. The very small dark dot in the middle depicts the path of the total solar eclipse. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

The AWB website says that schools have been identified and vetted by partner organizations in each country in Africa, and distribution networks have been verified. Every donated pair of eclipse glasses WILL reach a student for use for the eclipse. The International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development, which is based in Cape Town, South Africa, is providing invaluable support and assistance through their many contacts across Africa.

This program depends entirely on donations.

“There’s no question we can get all the donations that are needed as long as we get the word out in time,” Simmons said.

Please consider donating, as AWB does amazing work.

“We do probably a half-million dollars in programs each year based on the hard work of passionate amateur astronomers and educators around the world,” Simmons said, “all on way less than $25,000 a year.”

This is a great astronomy outreach organization that really could use financial help of any kind, so feel free to donate to their general cause, as well.

You can also purchase eclipse glasses for your own use from AWB here.

Clouds part for Transit of Venus from Princeton University


Despite a horrendous weather forecast, the clouds parted – at least partially – just in the nick of time for a massive crowd of astronomy and space enthusiasts gathered at Princeton University to see for themselves the dramatic start of the Transit of Venus shortly after 6 p.m. EDT as it arrived at and crossed the limb of the Sun.

And what a glorious view it was for the well over 500 kids, teenagers and adults who descended on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey for a viewing event jointly organized by the Astrophysics Dept and the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP), the local astronomy club to which I belong.

See Transit of Venus astrophotos snapped from Princeton, above and below by Astrophotographer and Prof. Bob Vanderbei of Princeton U and a AAAP club member.

Transit of Venus snapped from Princeton University - full sized image
This photo was taken with a Questar telescope at 6:26 p.m. on June 5, 2012 - it’s a stack of eight - 2 second images. Stacking essentially eliminates the clouds. Hundreds attended the Transit of Venus observing event organized jointly by Princeton University Astrophysics Dept and telescopes provided by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP), local astronomy club. Credit: Robert Vanderbei

It was gratifying to see so many children and whole families come out at dinner time to witness this ultra rare celestial event with their own eyes – almost certainly a last-in-a-lifetime experience that won’t occur again for another 105 years until 2117. The crowd gathered on the roof of Princeton’s Engineering Dept. parking deck – see photos

Excited crowd witnesses last-in-a-lifetime Transit of Venus from campus rooftop on Princeton University. Onlookers gathered to view the rare Transit of Venus event using solar telescopes provided by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP) and solar glasses provided by NASA and lectures from Princeton University Astrophysics Dept.
Credit: Ken Kremer

For the next two and a half hours until sunset at around 8:30 p.m. EDT, we enjoyed spectacular glimpses as Venus slowly and methodically moved across the northern face of the sun as the racing clouds came and went on numerous occasions, delighting everyone up to the very end when Venus was a bit more than a third of the way through the solar transit.

Indeed the flittering clouds passing by in front of Venus and the Sun’s active disk made for an especially eerie, otherworldly and constantly changing scene for all who observed through about a dozen AAAP provided telescopes properly outfitted with special solar filters for safely viewing the sun.

Kids of all ages enjoy the Transit of Venus from a rooftop at Princeton University. Solar telescopes provided by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP), solar glasses provided by NASA and lectures from Princeton University Astrophysics Dept. Credit: Ken Kremer

As part of this public outreach program, NASA also sent me special solar glasses to hand out as a safe and alternative way to directly view the sun during all solar eclipses and transits through your very own eyes – but not optical aids such as cameras or telescopes.

Transit of Venus snapped from Princeton University - quarter sized image
This photo was taken with a Questar telescope at 6:26 p.m. on June 5, 2012 - it’s a stack of eight - 2 second images. Credit: Robert Vanderbei

Altogether the Transit lasted 6 hours and 40 minutes for those in the prime viewing locations such as Hawaii – from where NASA was streaming a live Transit of Venus webcast.

You should NEVER look directly at the sun through any telescopes or binoculars not equipped with special eye protection – because that can result in severe eye injury or permanent blindness!

We in Princeton were quite lucky to observe anything because other astro friends and fans in nearby areas such as Philadelphia, PA and Brooklyn, NY reported seeing absolutely nothing for this last-in-a-lifetime celestial event.

Transit of Venus enthusiasts view the solar transit from Princeton University rooftop using special solar glasses provided by NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer

Princeton’s Astrophysics Department organized a series of lectures prior to the observing sessions about the Transit of Venus and how NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope currently uses the transit method to detect and discover well over a thousand exoplanet and planet candidates – a few of which are the size of Earth and even as small as Mars, the Red Planet.

NASA’s Curiosity rover is currently speeding towards Mars for an August 6 landing in search of signs of life. Astronomers goal with Kepler’s transit detection method is to search for Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone that could potentially harbor life !

So, NASA and astronomers worldwide are using the Transit of Venus in a scientifically valuable way – beyond mere enjoyment – to help refine their planet hunting techniques.

Doing an outreach program for NASA, science writer Dr Ken Kremer distributes special glasses to view the transit of Venus across the sun during a viewing session on the top level of a parking garage at the E-quad at Princeton University to see the transit of Venus across the sun on Tuesday evening, June 5, 2012. Michael Mancuso/The Times

Historically, scientists used the Transit of Venus over the past few centuries to help determine the size of our Solar System.

See more event photos from the local daily – The Trenton Times – here

And those who stayed late after sunset – and while the Transit of Venus was still visibly ongoing elsewhere – were treated to an extra astronomical bonus – at 10:07 p.m. EDT the International Space Station (ISS) coincidentally flew overhead and was visible between more break in the clouds.

The International Space Station (ISS) flew over Princeton University at 10:07 p.m. on June 5 after the sun had set but while the Transit of Venus was still in progress. Credit: Ken Kremer
Transit Of Venus image from Hinode Spacecraft. Click to enlarge. Credit: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin/enhanced by Marco Di Lorenzo

Of course clouds are no issue if you’re watching the Transit of Venus from the ISS or the Hinode spacecraft. See this Hinode Transit image published on APOD on June 9 and enhanced by Marco Di Lorenzo.

This week, local NY & NJ residents also had another extra special space treat – the chance to see another last-in-a-lifetime celestial event: The Transit of Space Shuttle Enterprise across the Manhattan Skyline on a seagoing voyage to her permanent new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Ken Kremer

The May 2012 Annular Eclipse as Seen From Space


Here’s a few unique vantage points of seeing the annular solar eclipse on May 20/21 2012. Above, one of the geostationary satellites called MTSAT (Multi-Functional Transport Satellite) built by Japan was able to capture the shadow over Earth near the maximum of the eclipse of May 20-21, 2012. It’s rather amazing how small the shadow is! “This image was generated during a color test of our Visible Daily-Earth project,” wrote Abel Mendez Torres on the [email protected] Arecibo website “and was taken by the MTSAT on May 21, 2012 @ 000 UTC (May 20, 2012 @ 8:00 PM EDT). Color correction was based on NASA Visible Earth datasets.” The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) is a research and educational virtual laboratory that studies of the habitability of Earth, the Solar System, and extrasolar planets, and @ProfAbelMendez is a very interesting person to follow on Twitter.

Below are a couple of videos: even though you are not supposed to look directly at the Sun during an eclipse, the PROBA-2 satellite did with an awesome result, and astronaut Don Pettit’s exceptional view of the eclipse from the International Space Station, as well as a view from the Hinode and Terra satellites:

ESA’s space weather microsatellite Proba-2 observed the solar eclipse on the evening of May 20, 2012. It passed through the Moon’s shadow a total of four times, imaging a sequence of partial solar eclipses in the process. The first contact was made on Sunday May 20 at 21:09 GMT. The last contact finished at 03:04 GMT.

Don Pettit’s view:

The joint JAXA/NASA Hinode mission captured this images of an annular eclipse of the Sun on May 20, 2012. Credit: Hinode/JAXA/NASA

Also, the JAXA/NASA Hinode mission captured this video of the eclipse.

Here’s a view of the eclipse over the North Pacific Ocean as see by the Terra satellite:

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the annular solar eclipse over the North Pacific Ocean on May 20, 2012. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

Make sure you check out our gallery of eclipse images from around the world, too!

Eclipse Images from Around the World


What a view! Here are some awesome eclipse images and videos from around the globe as skywatchers in Asia, the northern Pacific region and western North America experienced the annular eclipse on May 20/21, 2012. Above is a stunning combination of shots from various stages of the eclipse in Tokyo, Japan from Kim Nilsson.

For many of the images, click on them for the original source or for more info/larger sizes. We’ll be adding more images as they come in. If you want to have us add yours to this gallery, post your image to our Flickr group, or send us your images by email.

Thanks also to everyone who joined in on the Virtual Star Party with Phil Plait, Fraser, Jason, Pamela Gay, and Nicole Gugliucci, along with a live telescope feed from Scott Lewis in Los Angeles. If you want to watch a replay, the video is embedded below.

May 20 2012 Solar Eclipse near Sunset Beach / Huntington Beach, CA - timelapse / composition of "phases" of the eclipse during the approximate 2 hour duration. Credit: jimnista on Flickr.
A 'ring of fire' as seen in Arizona, USA. Credit: Robert Sparks (a.k.a. hale_bopp37 on Flickr)
'I love eclipses!' says photographer Linda Judah, who created this composite from pinhole camera observations of the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse, as seen in California, USA.
Screenshot from the live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera.

The SLOOH telescope had a live feed and here’s a screenshot of the ‘ring of fire’ from their webcast.

Eclipse picture from hotel room in Tokyo, Japan taken with iPhone! Credit: Lee Skelton.

This stunningly beautiful images from HadleyRille on YouTube shows how a tree a yard casts eclipse-shaped pinhole projections onto the front of a house:

Eclipse in Dallas, Texas USA from our very own Jason Major.
Tree leaves acting as pinhole cameras projecting tiny eclipse images on the ground at Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona USA. Credit: Sifted Reality on Flickr.
'I'm sorry to inform you that Earth is about to be been eaten by a fire demon,' wrote photographer Ben Brockert on Twitter. Ben is an engineer at Armadillo Aerospace.

This video is a compilation of images from Patrick Cullis:

Eclipse image taken through radiography film. Credit: Stefan Bartali.
Eclipse through the clouds in Manhattan Beach, California, USA. Credit:
Eclipse over wheat, at sunset in South Dakota, USA. Credit: Randy Halverson/Dakotalapse.
Annular eclipse on May 20, 2012 as seen in southwest Missouri, USA. Credit: Josh Martin.
An eclipsed Sun in a blaze of glory, as seen in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Credit: Abe Megahed
A hazy eclipse as seen in Manteno, Illinois, USA. Credit: Gerald Meegan.
A series of images taken near Stockton, California, USA, between 16:34 PST, and 19:36 PST. 'I had to move a couple of times to keep it in view and by the time I got to the last picture, it was falling behind trees,' said photographer Jon Ballard.
May 20, 2012 annular eclipse taken in Huntington Beach, CA at 6:09 PM. Smart phone picture using a Galileoscope shining on a piece of white paper. Credit: yzzzguy on Flickr.
Sunspots show up on the eclipsed Sun. Credit: darethehair on Flickr, from Morden, Manitoba, Canada.
Eclipse photo by Bill Dunford (of in Utah
A cloudy, blue eclipse as seen in Taipei, May 21, 2012 about 06:20 AM. Credit: sawunggaling on Flickr.
This photo was taken near the Texas-New Mexico border, west of Lubbock, TX. This is near the eclipse maximum, partially obscured by clouds. Credit: Erin Shaw

Here’s a video of a setting eclipse over the Very Large Array in New Mexico (Credit: J. Stoke/J. Hellerman, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

‘I watched the eclipse through a 30 year old Edmund Scientific Astroscan 2000,’ said photographer Keith Nealy from Alameda, California, USA.” I don't have a camera mount, so I just put my iPhone 4S in front of the lens and got an impressionistic shot. I took my telescope out to the street corner near our movie theater. About 75 people looked through it and were awestruck. It was delightful to see all ages and races be amazed. One couple came out of the movie "Avengers." I asked them how they liked the movie and they said the view through the telescope was better.’
Eclipse behind the mountains of the Wupatki Indian Ruins in northern Arizona, USA. Taken with Celestron 3.5 inch with solar filter through a Sony point and shoot digital camera. Credit: Andy Radke
A self-portrait of prolific photographer John Chumack watching the eclipse on May 20, 2012 from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Fun! Eclipse eyes by Alok Singhal.
Taken on a pier in Jack London Square in Oakland, California, USA. Credit: Jessie Edwards of Frivolous Design.

And make sure you check out our Flickr page to see more eclipse and other wonderful images sent in by astrophotographers!

Gallery of July 11 Solar Eclipse Images

The July 11, 2010 solar eclipse, as seen on Easter Island. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin


On July 11, 2010, the new moon passed directly in front of the sun, causing a total solar eclipse. The path of totality stretched across the South Pacific Ocean, and the Moon’s umbral shadow didn’t make landfall except for a few spots; Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua), southern Chile and Argentina, with a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering the South Pacific and southern South America. On hand to witness the event at Easter Island were Jonathan and Michael Doochin, who graciously shared several of the images included here. You can also check out Jonathan’s Twitpic page for more pictures of the eclipse as seen on Easter Island.

A composite image of SOHO and SDO data, plus an image taken by Jay Pasachoff's team from Williams College at Easter Island. Credits: Williams College Eclipse Expedition -- Jay M. Pasachoff, Muzhou Lu, and Craig Malamut; SOHO’s LASCO image courtesy of NASA/ESA; solar disk image from NASA’s SDO; compositing by Steele Hill, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

In this image, the solar eclipse is shown in gray and white from a photo provided by the Williams College Expedition to Easter Island and was embedded with an image of the sun’s outer corona taken by the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) on the SOHO spacecraft and shown in red false color. LASCO uses a disk to blot out the bright sun and the inner corona so that the faint outer corona can be monitored and studied. Further, the dark silhouette of the moon was covered with an image of the sun taken in extreme ultraviolet light at about the same time by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The composite brings out the correlation of structures in the inner and outer corona.

29 minutes from totality on Easter Island. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin
Screenshot of a 'diamond ring' effect seen during a webcast from Easter Island.
Cheese grater acting as a pin hole camera. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin

Here you can see multiple eclipses; the team from Williams College used a cheese grater as a pinhole camera to view the eclipse.

The Moon moving off the sun following the eclipse, as seen on Easter Island. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin
Rainbow over Easter Island before the eclipse. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin

What an amazing sight this must have been — a rainbow formed in the skies over Easter Island as people were setting up their cameras for the eclipse event.

Astronomer Jay Pasachoff viewing the eclipse on Easter Island. Credit: Jonathan Doochin & Michael Doochin

Astronomer Jay Pasachoff, who has now witnessed 51 eclipses, was on Easter Island, and Jonathan Doochin captured this image of Pasachoff viewing the eclipse. See our preview article/interview with Pasachoff.

Other websites of note: has a large gallery of images.

Daniel Fischer wrote about his experiences viewing the eclipse from Patagonia in Argentina; includes links to his best images.

Tomas Vorobjov (a.k.a @scibuff) has amassed a great collection of eclipse images on his Astronomy Gallery page.

Below is a video taken from the webcast of the event.