Nov 12, 2012

How to Watch Tomorrow’s Amazing Total Solar Eclipse Online

Chances are you won’t be present in person during tomorrow’s total solar eclipse, which will only be visible on land from a tiny sliver of Australia. Not to worry — the internet has got your back, and there are plenty of ways to catch the action from the comfort of your own browser.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets in between the Earth and sun, casting a shadow across a large swath of our planet. Earlier this year, parts of western North America were in line to see an annular solar eclipse, where the moon is slightly farther away from Earth than normal and therefore doesn’t appear big enough to quite cover the sun.
The total solar eclipse, which will reach its peak over land tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST), will be the real deal. Viewers in the path of the moon’s shadow will see a giant black circle completely swallowing up the sun for several minutes. As you can see from the map above, most of the time the moon will be traversing over the open ocean. The only major populated area on land to see the eclipse will be Australia, and that’s where eclipse enthusiasts are converging. Wired Science will also be hosting three video feeds tomorrow that will show the eclipse live.

The first comes from the Slooh Space Camera, which will have a three-person crew near Cairns to film the celestial event and broadcast it to the world. Photographer Anjali Bermain, Astronomy magazine’s Bob Berman, and astro-imager Matt Francis of the Prescott Observatory in Arizona will be discussing the eclipse from Australia. They will be joined by a team of experts during a live Google+ hangout, including heliophysicist Lucie Green from Mullard Space Science Laboratory and Slooh president Patrick Paolucci. Viewers can ask questions on Slooh’s homepage and snap live pictures using a Pinterest account. The feed starts live Nov. 13 at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST).
The second feed will be from the Cairns Eclipse 2012 Ustream channel, a tourism promotion group. The feed is co-sponsored by the Astronomical Association of Queensland, NASA, and several other partners. It begins around dawn before the event, at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST).
A third video comes from the Cairns City Webcam, which will be pointed just above the city’s trinity inlet where the sun and moon are expected to come in line with the Earth. It will be broadcasting at 12:39 p.m. PST (3:39 p.m. EST) on Nov. 13, as totality happens over Cairns.
Total solar eclipses over land are relatively rare, with any given region expected to have one every 375 years on average. The next total solar eclipse will take place over equatorial Africa on Nov. 3, 2014, though the region where it will happen in is notorious for clouds. A total solar eclipse will pass through the central and eastern U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017, ending a 38-year U.S. eclipse drought.
Image: NASA