COMING ATTRACTION Just before 7 p.m. on May 20 approximately half of the solar disc will be covered by the moon. The event will be visible across the Northwest Territories, proper solar viewing equipment is required to safely enjoy the show.
(YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES) An annular solar eclipse will be visible in the western sky on May 20, 2012 and the timing couldn’t be better.
This month’s event will present NWT’ers with an excellent opportunity to test solar filters and solar telescopes before the much anticipated Transit of Venus (our neighboring inner planet will slowly cross the disc of the Sun) event on June 5, 2012. The transit will be a rare spectacle that will not occur again until 2117 and will not be seen above the Northwest Territories until the following transit in 2025.
Solar eclipses are not so rare, in fact they can occur up to five times in one year. Annular eclipses are often confused with partial eclipses, which occur when the Sun and Moon are not exactly aligned. In an annular eclipse the Sun and Moon are exactly aligned, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. The resulting view from Earth at the point of GE (Greatest Eclipse) is a bright ring in the sky where the Sun used to be.
The view northerners will enjoy will not be so dramatic (we are not in the GE zone), however eclipses of any kind are impressive targets for skywatchers. The May 20 eclipse will be last from 5:52 p.m. – 7:52 p.m. MDT and at its peak northerners will see the moon cover approximately half of the Sun as it descends towards the western horizon.
(Eclipse predictions are provided by Fred Espenak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre)