Solar Eclipse Jan 15, 2010 – Longest Eclipse for 1,000 years

This Friday’s annular (ring-like) eclipse of the Sun is the longest for the next 1000 years!

The eclipse begins in Western Africa at 05:14 UT (4:14pm AEDT). The eclipse path is 331 km wide at its start as the antumbra (the circular silhouette of the Moon) quickly travels east-southeast at 10km per second.

Sun, Earth and Moon geometry means the eclipse shadow changes speed and the rapid start decreases to just 1.5km/s and increases again at the end of the eclipse. The maximum duration of just over 11 minutes at 6:59 UT to 7:10 UT will be observed from the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya.

At over 11 minutes it will be the longest annular eclipse of the 3rd Millennium and the duration will not be exceeded until the year 3043.

This eclipse will not be visible from Australia.

The path will then pass between India and Sri Lanka, across the Bay of Bengal to Burma and lastly China’s Shandong province at 08:59UT.

However, it is vital to note that despite 91% of the Sun’s disk being covered by the Moon, it is still exceedingly dangerous to look at with the unaided eye. Permanent damage may result by attempting to look at it so please ensure that if you live under the path of the antumbra or to the sides where a partial solar eclipse will be visible than you and everyone else do not observe the Sun directly. Use appropriate filters or make a pinhole camera and project a small image of the Sun or, better still, visit your local public observatory.

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