The “Eclipse Season” is over. The next one brings the totality, “shooting stars” and a unique sight in 397 years

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Saturday’s partial penumbra lunar eclipse was the third and last eclipse in a row of three in the last lunar orbit.

Summer seems ready to welcome some bright comets and many more celestial lights, but it is the Followingeclipse season”Which is really worth getting excited about because:

  • He understands a total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020– by far the most powerful, exciting and heartbreaking eclipse to see. It is great.
  • This total solar eclipse even coincides with the Geminid meteor shower– the best of the year – who could see 120 multicolored “shooting stars” raining down on observers under an inky black sky.
  • Just a week after the next total solar eclipse, on December 21, 2020, there is a “Grand Conjunction” at the solstice as Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer than at any time since the year 1623.

Yes, there is a “Cosmic Christmas” to come (like last year)-And there’s more.


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What is a “season of eclipses? “

Eclipses do not happen on their own, nor are they a fortuitous event. A solar eclipse can only occur on the New Moon when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun and it is always accompanied by some kind of lunar eclipse, either two weeks before or two weeks after, at full Previous or next moon. Sometimes both. Sometimes there are two solar eclipses in a row separated by a lunar eclipse.

Eclipses occur because the Moon’s orbital path around the Earth is 5º from the Sun’s path in our sky. These two paths intersect knots; if the Moon is at these nodes during a Full Moon or New Moon, eclipses will occur.

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When is the next “eclipse season”?

Unlike this eclipse season which has just passed and which has seen three consecutive eclipses – one lunar, one solar, then a lunar – the next will be just a lunar followed by a solar one. This “double eclipse season” begins on November 29, 2020 when another partial penumbral lunar eclipse – a “frosty lunar eclipse” – will see 83% of the Moon be covered from outside the Earth. twilight shadow. It is important to note that it won’t be a “blood moon” eclipse. It will be weakly visible from North and South America, Australia and East Asia. Here is a google map.

Two weeks later, in New Moon comes the better kind of eclipse — a total solar eclipse.

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When and where will the next total solar eclipse take place?

On December 14, 2020, a total solar eclipse will be visible from Chile and Argentina for the second time in 18 months. The effect during totality, when the Moon blocks all of the Sun, has been compared to a “hole in the sky” and it is surely one of nature’s greatest experiences.

During the event, the center of the Moon umbrella shadow will only take 24 minutes to cross Chile and Argentina. Observers on the middle line of the Path of Totality (which will cross the beautiful Lake District of southern Chile and Argentinian Patagonia) will experience a total of 2 minutes 9 seconds during which they will be able to see the solar corona with the naked eye.

Nature’s greatest spectacle will be high in the sky in the middle of the day.

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While coronavirus-related travel restrictions may prevent many eclipse hunters from making the trip to view the Corona of the Sun from South America, hopefully not, as this will be the last relatively ‘easy’ eclipse in recent years. years.

The next total solar eclipse is in Antarctica in December 2021, there is no total solar eclipse in 2022, and in 2023 only a remote part of Western Australia will experience a full one minute.

So the next “easy” eclipse for many will be the “Great American EclipseOn April 8, 2024 when a total of four and a half minutes will be observable from Mexico, the United States and Canada. Up to 50 million people could see this one.

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December’s total solar eclipse also comes with a bonus for eclipse hunters due to something happening the same week – and peaks hours before totality in South America – the meteor shower from the Geminids!

When will the meteor shower of the Geminids come to light?

The great thing about the total solar eclipse for astronomers is that it occurs on the New Moon when the night sky is darkest. It makes trips to observe eclipses in remote places very special due to the ability to observe the stars at night from either side.

Fortunately, the Geminid meteor shower peaks on December 13 and 14, 2020 when the Moon is barely 1% illuminated and completely absent from the night sky. In fact, it will be on the verge of eclipsing the Sun.

So anyone in Patagonia or southern Chile – as well as anyone in the northern hemisphere who can handle the cold temperatures – will be entitled to the sight (in a clear sky) of up to 150 reds, greens and even blues. that move slowly. tinted shooting stars.

By far the most beautiful of the year, the Geminid meteor shower is actually an “asteroid shower,” as the Geminids probably originate from a small asteroid in the solar system called the 3200 Phaethon.

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When is the “Great Conjunction” of 2020 at the solstice?

Just a week after the “shooting star eclipse” is a rare “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn that has not occurred since 2000 and will not recur until 2040.

The planets will be so close that they will appear as a single point of light to the naked eye. In fact, it’s going to be so close that this event qualifies as one of, otherwise thethe rarest predictable astronomical events of all.

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On December 21, 2020, the exact date of the solstice, Saturn and Jupiter will appear just 0.06 ° from each other just after sunset. Astronomers call this a “pulse” or a “great conjunction”.

This “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest conjunction of these giant planets since 1623.

2020 may have been a bad year, but for sky watchers it’s going to end very well indeed.

Disclaimer: I am the publisher of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of Total Solar Eclipse 2020: A Travel and Field Guide to Observing All of Chile and Argentina December 14, 2020

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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