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July 31, 2008

In the Shadow of the Moon - Solar Eclipse Alert!

Posted: 09:05 AM ET

Any and all Chinese readers of this blog - take note! Depending on exactly where you are, you may have a front row seat for a total solar eclipse on Friday! The rest of us will have to be content watching it on the internet.

Source: Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC

A total eclipse of the sun happens with the moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun - momentarily covering it completely, and turning day to night.

Relative to any fixed location on Earth, a total eclipse of the sun is a rare event. The last one visible from the continental U.S. happened in 1979 and the next one won't happen until 2017. From a global perspective, it's not so rare: a total eclipse is visible somewhere on Earth every few years.

I exaggerate a bit when I say this is for Chinese sky watchers only - in fact, the event will be visible also from parts of Northern Canada, Greenland, various Arctic islands, Northern Russia and Mongolia. You can check out the projected path here.

"Totality," the brief period when the sun is fully eclipsed, should happen just after 7 a.m. Eastern time.

If you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to see a solar eclipse in person, eye protection is key. You should never look directly at the sun with the naked eye. You need to to look through No. 14 welder's glass, aluminized mylar, or some other approved filter.

The next total solar eclipse will happen just under a year from now, July 22, 2009, and also will be a largely Asian show, though Hawaii will catch the tail end of it. I better get my request in now to go cover it for CNN!

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: eclipses • Sun

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Lalita   July 31st, 2008 10:37 am ET

Will the solar eclipse be visible in the state of Massachusetts and if yes, at what time ?

Zman   July 31st, 2008 11:11 am ET

No, not in Massachusetts or any part of the U.S.

Ubik   July 31st, 2008 12:05 pm ET

According to the link given below, no.

It's a picture of the path of totality of the eclipse. MA is not even close. You might see a partial eclipse but that's around 9:40 UT which is probably before dawn in the United States.

Larian LeQuella   July 31st, 2008 1:50 pm ET

Go to this website: And you can see a listing of all the eclipses scheduled to happen. I think their table only goes to 2009 for now, but they update it regularly (I hope). July 22, 2009, your best bet would be Guam perhaps?

Mary De Longis   July 31st, 2008 3:47 pm ET

I went to Mazatlan back in '91 to see a total solar eclipse, and it was so worth it. I would love to see one again - when I have the time and money to travel.

Moving Masses   July 31st, 2008 9:31 pm ET

The last solar eclipse, March 29, 2006...caused an earthquake in Iran.
Iran appeared to be about central in the streamline of the pathway.

Where will this one cause an earthquake? Russia, China, perhaps
Beijing? It will be interesting to see where it falls.

Think about it....if the moon can move the tide, can the sun move the

Try this world map for some future eclipse locations

Franko   July 31st, 2008 11:12 pm ET

Will take a long time to loose the Moon.
Even if we build a lot of tidal electric power
Perpetual power, inexhaustable, for a while.

Gene   August 1st, 2008 8:11 am ET

Can the sun move the earth? Constantly. All the bodies orbit around common centers of gravity. The Earth moves the sun, and vice versa. Describable, but not predictable inside of the natural boundaries of the laws of physics. Can be realigned by unpredictable outside events – wandering planets, asteroids, comets, etc. Basic non-linear dynamical systems theory (Chaos theory). 3 body problem. Which way will the ball roll? Probabilities do not exist, so why do we react to them?

Franko   August 1st, 2008 2:29 pm ET

Sun rotates every 27 days. Earth causes tides in the Sun, friction coupled, just like the Moon is to Earth. Chaos, a mathematical elegance, is constrained by energy limitations. Dark matter, dark energy. to be assimilated. Statistics implies need for more exact models. But statistical mechanics gives insight.

Jeremy   April 21st, 2010 11:30 pm ET

when is the next solar eclipse going to be if ur in massachusets?, will u see it?, and whats the date that you can see it and if its 2010 when?

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