This month’s new moon will fall tomorrow on November 13, 2012 at 22:08 Universal Time (4:08 p.m. CST in North America). As seen from just right place in Australia and the South Pacific, the November 2012 new moon will move directly in front of the sun, to stage nature’s most wondrous spectacle, a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will take place at or shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, November 14 local time in Australia. Almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the new moon will pass south of the sun, so no eclipse of the sun will be visible from our northerly latitudes.
People often ask us where the moon is at or near the time of new moon. Generally, the moon is invisible for a few to several days around the new moon because most of the moon’s dark side faces Earth, while the moon more or less rises with the sun and travels across the sky during the day, hidden in the solar glare. In order for an eclipse to occur, the moon has to swing directly in front of the sun. That happens pretty often. This November 13, 2012 eclipse is the second solar eclipse of this year.
During a total solar eclipse, the night side of the moon can be seen in silhouette against the disk of the sun. It’s an awesome sight! Plus the sky turns dark, and stars come into view.
Solar eclipses can be seen only within a narrow path across Earth’s surface. People often travel long distances to stand within that path, to stand in line with the moon and sun. Outside the path of the total eclipse – which is called the path of totality – a partial solar eclipse will take place almost everywhere over the South Pacific Ocean. On land, the partial eclipse of the sun will be visible from all of New Guinea, most of Australia, New Zealand and numerous South Pacific Islands. It’ll also be visible from part of Antarctica and southwestern South America.
Worldwide Map of the 2012 November 13 Solar Eclipse
Worldwide map of 2012 November 13 solar eclipse courtesy of NASA Eclipse Web Site
Small dark dot represents path of total solar eclipse and the large gray circle the partial solar eclipse
Here’s how to read the worldwide map above. The rather narrow path of the total solar eclipse (in blue) starts at sunrise (20:36 UT) in northern Australia and ends at sunset (23:47 UT) in the South Pacific to the west (left) of South America. Midway between, the greatest eclipse occurs at noon (22:11 UT) at the midsection of the South Pacific Ocean.
In the course of a little more than three hours, the moon’s dark shadow travels about 14,500 kilometers over the Earth’s surface. The width of the total eclipse path is narrowest (146 kilometers) at sunrise and sunset, yet widest (179 kilometers) around noon. That’s because a point on the Earth’s surface is farthest from the moon at sunrise or sunset, yet closest to the moon around noon.
As for the partial eclipse, it starts at sunrise (November 13 at 19:38 UT) in Indonesia and Western Australia and ends a little over five hours later at sunset in South America (November 14 at 00:46 UT).
Although the eclipse starts at sunrise in the Eastern Hemisphere and ends at sunset in the Western Hemisphere, the shadow path crosses the International Date Line going from west to east. That means the local date of the eclipse changes from Wednesday, November 14 to Tuesday, November 13. Befuddling though this may be, people on the east side of the International Date Line (Chile, Cook Islands and American Samoa) will see the eclipse on November 13, whereas people on the west side (New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand) will see the eclipse on November 14.
We give the local eclipse times for Santiago and Osorno, Chile and for some Pacific islands in the world’s Western Hemisphere below. We give the eclipse times for the world’s Eastern Hemisphere on tomorrow’s night sky post.
Santiago, Chile (Tuesday, November 13)
Partial solar eclipse begins: 7:50 p.m. local time
Greatest eclipse: 8:20 p.m. local time
Sunset: 8:20 p.m. local time
Osorno, Chile (Tuesday, November 13)
Partial solar eclipse begins: 7:46 p.m. local time
Greatest eclipse: 8:36 p.m. local time
Sunset: 8:46 p.m. local time
Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Tuesday, November 13)
Partial eclipse begins: 10:43 a.m. local time
Greatest eclipse: 11:57 a.m. local time
Partial eclipse ends: 1:15 p.m. local time
Pago Pago, America Samoa (Tuesday, November 13)
Partial eclipse begins: 9:18 a.m. local time
Greatest eclipse: 10:20 a.m. local time
partial eclipse ends: 11:30 a.m. local time
Bottom line: As seen from just right place in Australia and the South Pacific, the November 2012 new moon will pass directly in front of the sun, causing a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will take place at or shortly after sunrise on Wednesday, November 14 local time in Australia. Elsewhere, the eclipse will happen on November 13, 2012. Check above for eclipse times in South America and some Pacific Islands. Almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the new moon will pass south of the sun, so no eclipse of the sun will be visible from our northerly latitudes.