Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Bureau says sky watchers in for a solar eclipse treat

IN THE SHADE While the solar eclipse this week will be visible for only a few minutes, a lunar eclipse on Aug. 17 will take more than three hours, the CWB said

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The public will have an opportunity to see a total solar eclipse on Friday and a partial lunar eclipse on Aug. 17, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday.

Cheng Chen-fong (鄭振豐), a specialist at the CWB’s astronomical observatory division, said that those who miss this solar eclipse will have to wait until July 22 next year, whereas those who miss the lunar eclipse will not be able to see one again until Jan. 1, 2010.

The bureau said that people living in the northwest region, western coastal areas and those in Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu will be able to clearly watch the solar eclipse. It will begin only a few minutes before sunset, and the blockage will begin from the bottom right corner of the sun and gradually expand to cover it completely. The bureau added that because of the timing of the eclipse, people in Taiwan will only be able to see part of the event.

Observers are advised to use telescopes with light filters to avoid damaging their eyes. The CWB also said the best places to observe the phenomenon would be the coastal areas north of Chiayi or elevated areas like Yangmingshan (陽明山).

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. While the Earth revolves, the moon’s umbral shadow moves across the face of the Earth accordingly. During Friday’s eclipse, the path of the shadow will begin in northern Canada and travel to northern Greenland, the Arctic, Siberia, west Mongolia and China.

Those interested in watching the partial lunar eclipse will have to get up early in the morning, as the process begins at 3:36am on Aug. 17.

While observers will only be able to see the solar eclipse for a few minutes, the lunar eclipse process will last three hours and nine minutes before a full moon reappears. The eclipse will begin from the top left corner of the moon and expand diagonally to the right.

The peak of the lunar eclipse will occur at 5:10am, with approximately 85 percent of the moon entering into the shadow of the Earth.

To see a live Webcast of the solar eclipse, see sunearthday.nasa.gov/2008eclipse; www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/2008; or www.ltes.cy.edu.tw/97year/2008tse/index.htm.

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