Sunday Sees The Year’s First Solar Eclipse Set The Stage For January’s ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’

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A composite image of a partial solar eclipse, which will occur on Sunday. Getty

2019 promises to be a fabulous year for eclipse-chasers, and it’s set to start in style on Sunday, January 6, 2019, when the Moon will pass in front of some of the Sun to cause a partial solar eclipse.

A ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ – a total lunar eclipse – will occur on January 20/21, 2019. Getty

It’s the first of six eclipses in 2019, and comes two weeks before the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ – a total lunar eclipse on January 20/21 that all of North and South America, and Western Europe, will see.

So who will see Sunday’s partial lunar eclipse? From Siberia, northeast China, Mongolia, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, the Moon will appear to take a bite out of the Sun. It’s a potentially dangerous event to view with the naked eye, and throughout the entire spectacle, it will be necessary to wear protective solar eclipse glasses.

Watching the partial solar eclipse from Russia

In Russia it won’t just be the Moon that will be biting. Eclipse-chasers are already getting into position, including one at a place known as the ‘Pole of Cold’ – Earth’s coldest inhabited place. “I will observe it from Oymyakon, Yakutia, Sakha Republic, in northeastern Siberia,” says Xavier Jubier from Paris, France, and a member of International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Solar Eclipses.

Oymyakon is very remote, a thousand kilometers from Yakutsk, but very close to the Point of Greatest Eclipse where the most of the Sun will be covered by the Moon. “The eclipse occurs just above the horizon in temperatures around -50°C/-60°F or lower,” says Jubier, whose website is a treasure trove of detailed information about eclipses, and contains a Google Map of the path of Sunday’s partial solar eclipse.

Jubier knows this area, having traveled to Yakutsk, eastern Siberia last year to see a 57% partial solar eclipse. On January 6, he’ll see a 60% eclipsed Sun at 11:29 a.m. “I know nobody else is going to attempt it [which makes it] even more enticing,” he says.

This image shows a partial solar eclipse phase of what would later on become a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, as seen from near Madras, Oregon in the path of totality.Getty

Watching the partial solar eclipse from China

This eclipse will also be visible across much of East Asia, including parts of China. “I plan to visit the famous Harbin Ice Festival and watch the solar eclipse from there,” says experienced eclipse-chaser Jörg Schoppmeyer. Harbin is a city in northeastern China, and on January 6 there will be a 37% partial solar eclipse peaking at 08:52 a.m. local time. The 35th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opens on January 5 in 2019, and features four theme parks: Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo, Harbin Ice and Snow World, Songhua River Ice and Snow Harbin Valley, and the Zhaolin Park Ice Lantern Fair.

Watching the partial solar eclipse from Japan

Other eclipse experts will be in Japan. “I plan to observe the partial solar eclipse from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) in Mitaka, outside Tokyo,” says Jay Pasachoff, a professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Chair of the International Astronomical Union Working Group on Solar Eclipses.

He will meet with amateur astronomers the day before, watch a 29% eclipse peaking at 10:05 a.m. local time, then give a colloquium the day after. “I’ll just be taking pictures with a 400 mm lens and of the image in the NAOJ’s telescopes that I know will be trained on the eclipse,” he says.

Pasachoff uses partial solar eclipses both as practice for photographing total solar eclipses and as an opportunity for outreach, including advising local people on how to observe a solar eclipse safely. In 2018 he saw all three partial solar eclipses, from Buenos Aires in February, Tasmania in July, and Sweden in August. He keeps his images here.

A composite image of totality during the 2017 total solar eclipse, as seen from Teton Valley north of Driggs, Idaho.Getty

Is a partial solar eclipse as good as a total solar eclipse?

Although dramatic in its own right, don’t confuse a partial solar eclipse with the chilling, awe-inspiring spectacle of a total solar eclipse. “In rating the sheer beauty and grandeur of solar eclipses, a partial solar eclipse is a three, an annular solar eclipse is a seven, and a total solar eclipse is a 1,000,000!” says Fred Espenak, retired NASA astrophysicist and eclipse expert based in Arizona Sky Village known as Mr. Eclipse. “There’s no comparison.”

When is the next eclipse?

This partial solar eclipse is the first of six in 2019. A total lunar eclipse – the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ – will occur on January 20/21, 2019 (depending on where you view from in North and South America, or western Europe). However, the highlight of the year for eclipse-chasers will be July 2, 2019, when a total solar eclipse occurs over the South Pacific, Chile and Argentina. Two weeks later on July 16 there will be a partial lunar eclipse, when some of the Moon will turn red.

2012’s annular solar eclipse from Zion National Park, Utah.Getty

2019 will also see a transit of Mercury – technically a kind of eclipse, when the tiny inner planet appears to cross the disk of the Sun – will happen on November 11, 2019. Finally, on December 26, 2019, there will be an annular solar eclipse, also known as a ‘Ring of Fire’, visible from Saudi Arabia, Oman, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Singapore. The Moon will be further from Earth than usual, so will only cover the central part of the Sun. Consequently, the entire event is also a partial solar eclipse, much like Sunday’s event, but more attractive, and protective eclipse glasses must be worn at all times.

For eclipse experts, 2019 is an opportunity to see almost every kind of solar and lunar eclipse, some of the most dramatic events in nature.

Disclaimer: I am editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes

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Why You Should Make Plans Now To Witness 2019’s ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’, Total Solar Eclipse

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China Just Launched A Daring Mission To Land On The Moon. So Why Do You Know Nothing About It?

NASA’s Most Famous Spacecraft Is Now In Interstellar Space And Headed To ‘Dog Star’

Follow me on Twitter @jamieacarter@TheNextEclipse or read my other Forbes articles via my profile page

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