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Total Solar Eclipse: Locations and Times of Maximum Visibility



Total Solar Eclipse Locations and Times of Maximum Visibility

The total solar eclipse that traversed Mexico, the United States, and Canada has concluded its journey across continental North America.

The last observers to witness this dramatic celestial event were located along the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m. local time (3:46 p.m. ET).

Mazatlan, situated on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, was the first city to witness totality earlier on Monday. Subsequently, the total eclipse cast darkness over Texas, where spectators managed to catch stunning views despite cloudy weather. Following Texas, cities and towns in the midwestern US, including Indianapolis and Cleveland, provided viewers with the exhilarating experience of the celestial phenomenon.

Those positioned directly along the centerline of the totality path observed an eclipse lasting between 3 ½ and 4 minutes, as reported by NASA.

In the United States, an estimated 32 million individuals reside within the path of totality, where a total solar eclipse was observable in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. However, some regions faced potential weather disruptions.

Favorable eclipse viewing conditions were anticipated with only a few scattered clouds forecasted in Vermont to Maine and Missouri to southern Indiana. Conversely, Texas and the eastern Great Lakes regions received warnings for less-than-ideal weather. Those outside the path of totality witnessed a partial solar eclipse, where the moon seemed to create a crescent-shaped shadow on the sun.

Richard Canedo, a member of the Planetary Society since 1981, utilized the cloudy skies in Fredericksburg, Texas, to his advantage. He employed the overcast conditions as a makeshift filter to capture the total eclipse moment on his handheld camera.

In Fredericksburg, Texas, as the fully eclipsed sun emerged from behind the clouds, the assembled crowd of hundreds witnessed over four minutes of complete darkness, prompting enthusiastic cheers and exclamations of “Oh my God!”

During totality, a remarkable blazing ring, possibly indicating a prominence, was visible, drawing attention from Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye. Speaking from the outdoor stage event in Texas, Nye expressed his delight, stating, “It’s magical everyone. I am just so happy to be sharing this with you all.”

Simultaneously, thousands gathered at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the only NASA facility within the eclipse’s path of totality. Among the attendees were NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, NASA astronaut Steve Bowen, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Josh Dobbs, and even Snoopy, all donning eclipse glasses for the occasion.

To safely observe the eclipse, it was crucial to obtain certified eclipse glasses or a solar viewer. Without the protection of these dark filters, there is a significant risk of permanent eye damage, known as solar retinopathy, from looking directly at the sun.

Solar retinopathy can result in lasting effects on vision, which may improve or worsen over time, but unfortunately, it cannot be treated.

If you experience any symptoms or discomfort in your eyes, it is essential to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider immediately. Ronald Benner, an optometrist and president of the American Optometric Association, recommended using resources such as the American Optometric Association’s doctor locator to find appropriate care.

Benner explained that for many people, solar retinopathy manifests as alterations in color vision, with colors appearing distorted or faded the following day, or a persistent haziness. Others may experience actual gaps or holes in their vision.

Special solar eclipse moments

While the total eclipse phase is often seen as the highlight of a total solar eclipse, there were several other noteworthy phases to anticipate before reaching that climax.

In addition to the anticipation building up to the eclipse over weeks and months, the longest phase of the event was the partial eclipse, lasting between 70 to 80 minutes as the moon gradually crossed in front of the sun.

A significant indicator for spectators was the darkening and eerie gray tint of the sky, occurring approximately 15 to 20 minutes before totality.

Subsequently, there were several rapid phases leading up to the complete disappearance of sunlight.

Observers witnessed small drops of sunlight forming around the moon, recognized as Baily’s beads, while sunlight illuminated the lunar surface’s craters and valleys. Within about 30 seconds to a minute, some of these drops appeared to merge, resulting in a sparkling “diamond ring” effect roughly a minute before totality.

During totality, the radiant halo of the sun’s corona, or its hot outer atmosphere, becomes visible, along with its dimmer light, only when the sun’s intensely bright surface is obstructed.

While totality captures the spotlight, a few celestial bodies, including Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and the faint glow from Saturn, were also visible in the sky near the eclipse.

Amidst the fleeting darkness of the total eclipse, researchers stationed at the Fort Worth Zoo and Dallas Zoo in Texas observed daytime zoo animals preparing for sleep, while nocturnal creatures like owls and ringtails began to stir. Some of the research conducted on Monday invited public participation through citizen projects.

Furthermore, local temperatures experienced a drop of up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas during the brief moments of totality.

When will the next solar eclipse occur?

The next celestial event like this in the United States is a bit of a wait.

Residents of Alaska will witness a total solar eclipse on March 30, 2033, while most of the US will experience a partial solar eclipse during that event.

Following that, a total solar eclipse won’t be observable again from the contiguous US until August 22, 2044, but it will only cover North Dakota and Montana, along with parts of northern Canada.

The subsequent total solar eclipse with a coast-to-coast trajectory across the Lower 48 states will occur on August 12, 2045. The path of totality will stretch over California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, with a partial eclipse visible in other states.

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Scientists Find Massive Water Reserve in Enormous Black Hole a Billion Times Larger Than the Sun



Scientists Find Massive Water Reserve in Enormous Black Hole a Billion Times Larger Than the Sun
Cover Image Source: NASA | ESA

In a revolutionary discovery, researchers have found a remarkable water supply inside a black hole located 12 billion light-years from Earth. Imagine an ocean held within the core of a cosmic event, vastly exceeding the size of the Sun or any other celestial body in our solar system.

To simplify, if you were to gather all the water from Earth’s oceans and increase it by 140 trillion times, it would just begin to compare to what was found within this black hole.

You may now be asking, what exactly is a black hole? Think of it as a cosmic vacuum cleaner, sucking in anything that comes too close, including light.

The black hole in question, known as a quasar, is a supermassive object that absorbs gas and dust, simultaneously releasing immense energy into the infinite reaches of space.

A quasar operates on the immense power of a gigantic black hole that continuously consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust. As it devours, the quasar emits vast amounts of energy. Researchers focused on a specific quasar named APM 08279+5255, which contains a black hole 20 billion times the mass of the sun and emits energy equivalent to a thousand trillion suns.

NASA scientist Matt Bradford, based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, notes that water is crucial in supporting the quasar’s extraordinarily large appetite.

“The environment around this quasar is particularly remarkable due to the immense amount of water it contains,” said Matt Bradford. “This is yet another indication that water is widespread throughout the universe, even from its earliest epochs.”

Starting in 2008, Bradford’s team utilized an instrument called “Z-Spec” at the California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory, which is a 10-meter telescope located near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, to begin their observations. They followed up with observations using the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), a collection of radio dishes situated in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California.

A second group, led by Dariusz Lis, a senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, conducted their research using the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to detect water. In 2010, Lis’s team discovered water in APM 8279+5255 by observing a single spectral signature. Bradford’s team, however, was able to gather more detailed information about the water, including its vast mass, as they detected multiple spectral signatures.

Astronomers had long hypothesized the presence of water vapor at the fringes of our universe, but verifying its existence at such a remote distance had proved challenging until these discoveries.

This water is not simply stationary around the black hole; instead, it is in a perpetual state of movement, swirling around much like a whirlpool. The amount of water in this black hole is an astounding 140 trillion times greater than all the water in Earth’s oceans combined.

The researchers employed sophisticated telescopes and instruments like the Z-Spec and the Plateau de Bure Interferometer to study a quasar known as APM 08279+5255. This quasar possesses an enormous mass, 20 billion times greater than that of the Sun in our solar system, and emits energy equivalent to a thousand trillion suns combined.

Read More: Total Solar Eclipse: Locations and Times of Maximum Visibility

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