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