Solar and Lunar Eclipses of 2013
Once, the eclipse was met with confusion, panic, and dread, but today we can predict these events with great accuracy, and always look forward to it. To ensure that you don't miss a moment of syzygy (it's really a word, meaning celestial bodies in alignment), find a telescope or quality pair of binoculars with the proper filter and glass the heavens on these dates in 2013.
April 25, 2013: Partial Lunar Eclipse
Those living in the Western Hemisphere will have to sit out the first of three lunar eclipses this year. Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia will see just a very slight sliver of shadow over the moon's North Pole. This miniscule syzygy occurs at maximum eclipse and while the umbral shadow will not be great, the entire northern half of the moon will be darkened by the Earth's penumbral shadow. This marks the second shortest partial eclipse of the moon for the entire 21st Century.
May 10, 2013: The Ring of Fire Eclipse
The Annular Solar Eclipse is always a big event, beginning this year in Western Australia. From the Outback it will move east across the central Pacific Ocean to create a pattern that's commonly referred to as a "Ring of Fire" eclipse, which is a cool name for the same eclipse only now its visible to fewer people. Australia, Papau New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands will all have a great view come morning, but the rest of us will have to wait until another year. At the point of greatest eclipse, the ring phase will last a mere 6 minutes and 4 seconds. At 3:48 p.m., the moon blots out 32 percent of the sun for Hawaiians, the only Americans who'll be viewing this year.
May 25, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse #2
The second of a series of three lunar eclipses this year will be practically imperceptible. The shadow is so miniscule that most won't even bother getting out their telescopes. But it still counts! The May 25th penumbral lunar eclipse has a small entry into the penumbral shadow and marks the beginning of the Saros Series. Those in North America, South America, Western Europe, and Western Africa will be able to observe this eclipse.
October 18, 2013: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse #3
The October Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is the third and final lunar eclipse in 2013 and it'll make a show for the Americas, Europe, Africa, and most of Asia. The moon will first darken over Asia but at no point this evening will it ever truly vanish from sight. In fact, those in Australia or the eastern portion of Siberia will see a perfectly normal moon this evening.
November 3, 2013: Hybrid Solar Eclipse
The alignment is right but the moon is simply too close to the Earth to block out the sun! When this happens we end up with what is called a hybrid solar eclipse, in which some parts of the world will indeed see a total solar eclipse while others will only see an annular eclipse. The total eclipse will trace across the eastern coast of the US, draw east across the Atlantic Ocean, and end over central Africa. The rest of the world will only see an annular event.