Where And When You Can See The First Solar Eclipse Of 2022 As A Smiley-Face Sun ‘Bounces’ Between The Poles

A month from today the first solar eclipse of 2022 will occur when a maximum of 54% of the Sun is obscured by the Moon during a special “sunset eclipse” from parts of the southern hemisphere.

A partial solar eclipse for parts of Antarctica and western South America, the event on Saturday, April 30, 2022 isn’t considered a major event by eclipse-chasers—most of whom save their money to travel to see a spine-tingling total solar eclipse—but that’s not stopped some committed “umbraphiles” from making up for eclipse trips lost to COVID-19.

“I’m planning to go to Viña del Mar, near Santiago in Chile,” says Jay Pasachoff, Professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and a veteran observer of solar eclipses. From his observing position Pasachoff—for whom this will be his 75th solar eclipse—will see a 28% partial solar eclipse that begins about 90 minutes before sunset and eventually sinks into the Pacific Ocean while still slightly eclipsed.

Cue a slight “horned Sun” effect when, if the clouds play ball, an eclipsed Sun’s two limbs are visible separately on the horizon. It’s a relatively rare sight in itself for eclipse observers.

Pasachoff is looking forward to returning to the southern hemisphere so soon after seeing December’s total solar eclipse from a plane above Antarctica. “This April 30 is again an Antarctic eclipse, but I won’t go that far south,” he says. “For a partial solar eclipse, seeing a bit of it is good enough.”

Besides, the maximum of this eclipse occurs in the Drake Passage between mainland South America and Antarctica—and in any case just beyond the Antarctica cruising season. Another venue that’s not possible to visit is Easter Island, which is currently closed to visitors because of COVID-19.

However, it will be possible to observe a rather unusual optical effect from anywhere on the eclipse’s path. “It seems interesting that the shadow of the Moon, also known as the eclipse of the Sun, is bouncing back and forth between the north pole and the south pole,” he says.

That’s down to geometry. During the eclipse the Moon will appear to cross the top half of the Sun from left to right—south to north—before sinking below the horizon.

“This partial solar eclipse takes place in South America at sunset, which gives various possibilities for special atmospheric sunset pictures,” said Jörg Schoppmeyer, an eclipse-chaser from Germany. Schoppmeyer has form, having photographed an eclipsed Sun near the horizon from Goa, India in 2007. He also took a video of a rare violet flash as an eclipsed Sun set as seen from Oahu, Hawaii in 2004. “In the video you can see continuously green and blue flashes and as the last spike sinks into the water also a violet flash,” he said. He hope to create something similar from Chile on April 30.

Although there are no total solar eclipses in 2022 there is a second partial solar eclipse for Eurasia. On Tuesday, October 25, 2022 the UK will see about 15% of the Sun blocked by the Moon while in Russia, close to the maximum, it will be more like 80%. “Kazakhstan has a big occultation,” says Pasachoff. “But I think I’ll stick to Oslo.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.


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