Solar and Lunar Eclipses of 2012

The eclipse has frightened, confused, and excited mankind for millennia, but today we have more understanding of these awesome phenomena than ever. We no longer cower in its wake, but predict its very arrival to the minute; anxiously glassing the sky for a glimpse at its rare beauty. To ensure that you don't miss a moment of syzygy, find atelescope or binoculars with the proper filter and look to the heavens on these dates in 2012 ...

May 20: Annular Solar Eclipse
The first eclipse of the year will traverse Eastern Asia, beginning in southern China at 22:06 UT. From there, the shadow will crawl across the Pacific Islands and on to the western United States until it ends at around 01:34 UT near the Texas Panhandle. It sounds good, but your chances of viewing are scant. Just how small a viewing window are we talking about for this eclipse? The antumbra will only cover 0.74% of the Earth's surface area.


June 4: Partial Lunar Eclipse
The first lunar eclipse will be visible to many more - almost everyone except for Africa, Europe, Greenland, and western Asia. Asia will not see the beginning of the eclipse, while most of the Americas will experience moonset before the eclipse is over. Have your telescope ready between 08:48:09 UT and 13:18:17 UT.

June 5 and 6: Transit of Venus
Without a doubt the year's most anticipated celestial event, the transit of Venus is not your typical eclipse. Instead of the moon coming between the Earth and Sun, Venus will be seen as a small black dot crossing the disc of the sun. It's been 8 years since such an event has occurred, but another won't come around again until the year 2117. Look to the sun (careful) at 22:09 UT - the passing will end at 04:49 UT, never to be seen again for over a century.

November 13: Total Solar Eclipse
Viewing for 2012's total solar eclipse isn't ideal. Most of its time will be spent over the South Pacific Ocean and will make no landfall but for northern Australia. If you're going to be in the South Pacific this summer, you lead a very privileged life, and you'll have to tell us all about this one. Everyone else ... sorry. Count on it starting across the Gulf of Carpentaria at 20:37 UT and ending 800 kilometers short of Chile at 23:48 UT.

November 28: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The final lunar eclipse of 2012 will be a deep one with a magnitude of 0.9155 perfectly visible to the naked eye. But, since it lasts from 12:14:58 UT through 16:51:02 UT, Eastern Canada and the USA will miss out since it begins after moonset. The Western half of the USA and Canada will have a phenomenal view.

Solar and Lunar Eclipse Resources: