Solar Eclipses

Without a doubt, a total solar eclipse is the most awesome sight in astronomy. The sight of a jet-black disk where the Sun should be, surrounded by a pearly white glow, set in a deep bluish/purple sky, is something not to be forgotten. However, for most people, a total eclipse is only a dream, as the track of totallity covers only a narrow strip on the Earth. Even so, every astronomer should do everything possible to observe at least one total solar eclipse. I have been fortunate enough to observe 2 total solar eclipses. One in 1974 over Western Australia, and the other in 1976 in South Australia. An attempt to observe a third in England during August 1999, was thwarted by cloud. (How surprising!)

In adition to total eclipses, there are other types of eclipse of the Sun, partial and annular. Although lacking the spectacular nature of a total eclipse, they are still interesting to observe and because they are visible from a much wider area, most observers should be able to see some form of solar eclipse every few years.


June 20, 1974

October 20, 1976

September 11, 1988

January 15, 1991

February 16, 1999

August 11, 1999

May 20, 2012