Solar Eclipse: Watch The Moon Blot Out The Sun Over Australia Last Night [VIDEO]
If you were in Antarctica and couldn't sleep last night, maybe you caught the annual "Penguin" solar eclipse. If not, the Slooh Community Observatory broadcast the celestial event live from Australia. (The video below shows the whole 75-minute show.)
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A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun and leaving only the hazy glow, called the corona, visible. According to NASA, this was the first solar eclipse of the year. The second and final one will happen around 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 23. Although the October eclipse will only partially block the sun, it will be visible across the United States and Canada in the middle of the afternoon.
Last night's eclipse was a little bit more difficult to catch live and in person. The only ones likely to have seen it with their own eyes were penguins — thus its nickname. "For an observer at the geographic coordinates nearest the shadow axis (131° 15.6' E, 79° 38.7' S), the Sun would appear on the horizon during the 49-second annular phase," NASA reports. In other words, the sun would appear as a glowing ring of fire for about 49 seconds if you were standing at those coordinates, which, in case you're wondering, are right here. You could also have seen a partial solar eclipse in the Indian Ocean or Australia around 2 a.m. Eastern Time on April 29.
While this was the first solar eclipse of the year, it wasn't the first eclipse. A total lunar eclipse happened at 3:45 a.m. April 15. This one was highly anticipated because it was also timed with a Mars Opposition just a week prior. That's when Mars' orbit around the sun takes it directly behind the Earth, bringing the planet much closer than it usually is and into alignment with the sun and the Earth. During the lunar eclipse, an especially bright Mars was visible beyond the moon.
Above photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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