Astronomy Picture of the Day

Hybrid Solar Eclipse

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Hybrid Solar Eclipse


April's spectacular
celestial event
was a rare
hybrid eclipse
of the Sun - a total or an annular eclipse could be
seen depending on the observer's location.

For Fred Espenak,
aboard a gently swaying ship within
the middle of the Moon's shadow
track about 2,200 kilometers
west of the Galapagos, the eclipse was total, the lunar
silhouette exactly covering the bright solar disk for a
few brief moments.

His camera captured a picture of totality revealing the extensive
solar corona and
prominences rising above the Sun's edge.

But for Stephan Heinsius,
near the end of the
shadow track at Penonome Airfield, Panama, the Moon's apparent size
had shrunk enough to create an annular eclipse,
showing a complete annulus of the Sun's
bright disk as a dramatic
ring of fire.

Pictures from the two locations are compared above.

How rare is such a hybrid eclipse?

Calculations show that during the 21st century just 3.1% (7 out of 224)
of solar eclipses are hybrid while
hybrids comprise about 5% of
all solar eclipses over the period
2000 BC to AD 4000.

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