On August 1, 2008, a total solar eclipse begins at 6:09 pm China time
(6:00 am EDT)
An "Eclipse" is a natural phenomenon that has captured the curiosity
and wonder of people for thousands of years. The reason for an
eclipse has been explained in many cultures throughout time.
The early Chines believed that a solar eclipse was the result of a dragon devouring the Sun. The Chippewa Indians of North America believed the Sun was being extinguished during an eclipse, so they shot burning arrows skyward to rekindle the flame. Some cultures have long understood that eclipses are caused by an alignment of the Earth, Moon & Sun. The Maya of MesoAmerica recorded eclipse predictions tables more than 1,000 years ago.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. When the Sun is completely covered, the sky grows dark and the temperture drops. Most soalr eclipses are partial, meaning that only a portion of the Sun is blocked; but once every year or two the ideal celestial alignment occurs as the moon entirely blocks the Sun from certain vantage points on Earth.
This eclipse this year will start northeast of the small town of Yiwu, approximately two hours north of Hami which is located in the Xinjiang province of China. It belongs to the so-called midnight Sun eclipses, as it will be visible from regions experiencing Midnight Sun. A partial eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including eastern North America and most of Europe and Asia.
A team of Exploratorium and NASA heliophysics experts will
masterfullly capture and broadcast the Eclipse live from yet another
specially chosen international location. The excitement and wonder
of live viewership can still be seen even if you are not able to travel to
China for this unforgetable celestial event. Thanks to satellite technology,
you can watch it from your local planetarium or museum -- or from
home at your computer screen.
This is a special web site specifically for this event; it includes podcasts, articles, videos, and of course a live webcast on August 1st!
Click on the Eclipse Special "Total
Solar Eclipse 2008".
The ethereal halo of the sun - it's corona or outer atmosphere can only be seen during a total eclipse.