February 19, 2020

Astronomy Video of the Week: An Arctic Total Solar Eclipse!

A ‘diamond ring’ seen at the end of totality during the 2008 solar eclipse.

Credit: NASA/Exploratorium

The month of March sees the beginning of meteorological and astronomical Spring in the northern hemisphere. March also gives us another reason to celebrate, as the first of two eclipse seasons for 2015 begins. 2015 features 4 eclipses — 2 solar and 2 lunar —and the first one is coming right up on March 20th.

And what an unusual eclipse it is. The March 20th total solar eclipse cuts a wide swath through the polar Arctic regions, with totality only making landfall over the Faroe and Svalbard Islands before ending its trek at the North Pole just over 12 hours prior to the vernal equinox.

Our good friend Michael Zeiler over at the GreatAmericanEclipse.com made an excellent animation depicting the path of the Polar Equinoctial eclipse north of Europe:

Total solar eclipse of March 20, 2015. Animated map of Moon's shadow from Michael Zeiler on Vimeo.

This is the only total solar eclipse for 2015, and the second to last before the big ticket event on August 21st 2017 as the shadow of the Moon crosses the United States. March weather and the low elevation of the Sun in the sky will make this a challenging one for land based observations, though there’s always a chance to spy aurorae during totality. That is, if the Sun cooperates.

And just two weeks, later, the third total lunar eclipse of the ongoing tetrad occurs for viewers around the Pacific Rim region on April 4th.

And although the path of totality for the March 20th eclipse threads a course between Iceland and the British Isles, all of Europe and the UK will see varying degrees of partial eclipse.

All the more reason to get those eclipse glasses now!

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