A total solar eclipse occurred last Monday (14). However, the best spots to observe it were located in southern positions in South America - a narrow strip of continent, therefore. If you don't live in these regions of Chile or Argentina, you observed a partial solar eclipse, or not at all.
December skies stir - perhaps to celebrate the end of the lousy year 2020. The beginning of 2021 will still look like 2020, of course. But in an optimistic scenario, the second half of the year should improve. Well, about the astronomical events, on the night of the 13th, the peak Geminid meteor shower occurred, as we reported. On the 14th, a total solar eclipse occurred. But the surprises aren't over yet.
On December 21 we will have the Great Conjunction, as we also told you here. Great conjunctions occur with the approach of Jupiter and Saturn. But this one is special, because such an approach has not occurred since the Middle Ages, in the year 1226. The two planets will come so close that they will appear to be a single star. Some call the phenomenon the Star of Bethlehem.
Photographs of the total solar eclipse
Only a few cities, like Saavedra and Pucon, in Chile, as well as Valcheta and Salina del Eje, in Argentina saw the total eclipse, so don't feel bad for missing the phenomenon. The line where the total solar eclipse was seen started in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and ended in the Atlantic Ocean, crossing only a narrow strip of Earth in the south of the Latin American continent.
But amateur astronomers have photographed the phenomenon, and here are some of those photos.
(Marcelo F. / Reproduction).
This timeline drawn by astrophotographer Sergio Henrique Silva Junior made the experience of observing an eclipse through images a little more interesting than usual.
This capture from Rio de Janeiro drew a timeline of the eclipse. (Sergio Henrique Silva Junior / Reproduction).
Some people didn't have a very happy day :(. Cloudy skies are the worst enemy of any astronomical phenomenon enthusiast. The sad capture occurred at Lake Villarrica in Pucon, Chile, by photographer Martin Bernetti.
(Martin Bernetti, AFP).
But some connoisseurs have captured the eclipse in a special way. They all focus on observing the eclipse shadow, when usually the chromosphere also presents beautiful colors for cameras, as well as valuable scientific data. The tweet below contains a truly interesting click of the eclipse.Daniel Fischer @cosmos4u Just received outstanding chromosphere and prominence images from Marco Espinosa who dodged clouds in Argentina - muchas gracias! //t.co/Ih3hEJO2Ba 9:45 PM - Dec 14, 2020 273 104
"Just received chromosphere and highlight images of Marco Espinosa dodging clouds in Argentina - muchas gracias!" the tweet reads.
Eclipses and science
I talked there about the valuable scientific data, correct? So I think it's worth briefly highlighting a bit of what eclipses mean to science. Well, a solar eclipse is just a phenomenon where the moon comes between the Earth and the sun, leaving a region of the globe momentarily in the dark, right? So what scientific significance does that have? NOAA Satellites @NOAASatellites Today's total #SolarEclipse was the only total solar #eclipse of the year. Although it was mainly visible from Earth in parts of South America, #GOESEast had a perfect view of the moon's shadow moving across the Earth. //t.co/AlU0E8eGsW 6:04 PM - Dec 14, 2020 6.1K 1.6K
In a way yes, it is just an orbital coincidence. But we have already talked here, for example, how an eclipse observed from Brazil in 1919 demonstrated that Einstein was correct. In Sobral, in Ceará, in that year, a commission of European astronomers came here (and in other places around the globe) to photograph a total solar eclipse.
Basically, if Einstein was correct, the Sun would distort the light from a nearby star. During the eclipse, as the sky would momentarily darken, they would be able to see the star. So they photographed it and compared the apparent position (of the photo) with the real position, which they calculated. Thus, they confirmed the truth of the Theory of General Relativity.
In 1947 Brazil witnessed another important point. At that time there were no satellites. The first satellite, Russia's Sputinik, would only take to the skies a decade later. Therefore, the Russians and Americans observed, from Minas Gerais, an eclipse that allowed for better calculations of intercontinental distances to improve missile accuracy, as they entered a racearmaments.
Today, scientists have more sophisticated ways of collecting scientific data, but amateur astronomers still have fun with eclipses and their scientific data.