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Annual Solar Eclipse

December 14, 2001

Source: Sky & Telescope

On December 14th, less than a year after the United States and Canada were treated to a Christmas morning eclipse of the Sun, the partial phases of another solar eclipse will touch much of North and Central America.

This time the eclipse is annular, meaning the Moon's disk appears slightly smaller than the Sun's and a ring of brilliant sunlight remains visible to observers who see the Moon passing directly in front. The centerline for visibility of this annular phase falls primarily across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, touching land only in Costa Rica and Nicaragua just prior to sunset. Decent weather prospects are drawing many eclipse chasers to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, where mideclipse occurs at 22:32 Universal Time (UT). There the Sun stands 11&#deg above the southwestern horizon and the annular phase lasts up to 3 minutes 19 seconds.

The partial phases of this eclipse will be visible throughout most of southern Canada and all of the U.S. except northeastern New England and northern Alaska. In the East the eclipse occurs at, or just prior to, sunset; in the West it is a late-afternoon event. The centerline passes 300 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, so a deep partial eclipse will be visible to islanders. Maximum eclipse occurs at midmorning, 9:27 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (19:27 UT), when 84 percent of the Sun's diameter (or 79 percent of the disk area) will be hidden.

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