Solar Eclipse November 3? YES. Visible from Utah? NO.

Seth Jarvis

Yes, there is a solar eclipse on the morning of Sunday, November 3rd.

No, it will not be visible, even as a partial eclipse, to anyone west of the United States’ eastern seaboard. BUT…

…this eclipse is cool because this is what astronomers refer to as a “hybrid” eclipse. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is not circular, it’s elliptical.

That means from one moment to the next the Earth-Moon distance is changing. Sometimes the Moon is closer to us, sometimes it’s farther from us.

The variation in the Earth-Moon distance can be as large as 25,000 miles, or roughly 10% of the average Earth-Moon distance.

The size of the shadow that the Moon casts on the surface of Earth depends on how far away it is from us. (Think about how the size of the shadow of your hand on a wall changes as you move closer and farther from the light bulb you’re using to create the shadow.)

On the morning of November 3rd, while the Moon’s shadow is crossing our planet, the Earth-Moon distance will change enough for the eclipse to transition from an “annular” eclipse (with a thin ring of sunlight surrounding the Moon) to a “total” eclipse (all the Sun is blocked by the Moon).

This map shows where the Moon's shadow falls on Earth during the November 3rd eclipse. Notice that anywhere west of the easternmost US won't get to see any part of the eclipse

This map shows where the Moon’s shadow falls on Earth during the November 3rd eclipse. Notice that anywhere west of the easternmost US won’t get to see any part of the eclipse

If you’re hoping to see a full-on total eclipse of the Sun that is legitimately visible throughout the United States, then mark your calendars for August 21, 2017. That one promises to be a doozy!

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>