From Lonely Planet’s James Martin:
On Sunday 21 June, parts of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, including northern India, China and north Australia will be able to see one of the world’s most breath-taking natural phenomenons; an Annular Solar Eclipse that looks like a burning ring of fire. An Annular Solar Eclipse occurs when the Sun’s centre is covered by the Moon at its furthest point away from the Earth in orbit, resulting in glowing edges that form a “ring of fire”. A partial eclipse will be visible to people in selected countries. NASA has even created a handy interactive map charting the path of the Annular Solar Eclipse, highlighting where exactly it should be visible from, while TimeandDate.com has outlined times on a global scale. The solstice will also occur on 20 June, meaning summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. The Sun’s path across the sky changes each day over the course of a year, getting higher or lower depending on the time of year. The solstices are the moments in June and December when that movement stops and the sun’s path starts heading in the other direction.
As explained by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this shift and the seasons themselves are caused Earth’s tilt as it orbits the Sun. The last time I remembering being in a great place to see the eclipse was back in 1999. We were in Scotland, to play golf naturally. After playing the New Course, and the Olde Course in St. Andrews, we drove up to Carnoustie, site of the previous year’s Open Championship. Somewhere in the middle of the round, the skies darkened. Perhaps it was a sign from the golfing gods?
I recently read this in Outside magazine: Ho and Hsi were the court astrologers for Chinese Emperor Chung K’ang in 2136 BC. Throughout history, Chinese rulers (who were sometimes paranoid megalomaniacs) used astronomical divination to justify their often eccentric decisions, and a total solar eclipse was believed to be a bad omen.
Merlin the Magician, was an eclipse chaser, who wore red rock-climbing shoes, glittery neon lycra tights, a massive shaggy purple coat, a spangled cap with droopy point, and wraparound cat-eye sunglasses.
So, the place to be is Pucon, Chile, where Mike and I once visited on our long drive from top to bottom in Chile. It will be visible on December 14, 2020. “A total solar eclipse is the perfect excuse for an epic adventure” according to Alison Van Houten. But a word from someone who has been there, there is not much “there” so plan accordingly.
The Maori of New Zealand believed an eclipse was an attack by demons, who ate the sun. The Vikings believed there were two vicious sky wolves in the heavens, Hati and Skoll. Hati ate the sun during a lunar eclipse. Skoll ate the moon during a lunar eclipse. For the Chinese, it was a dragon that devoured the sun. For the people of Vietnam, it was a hungry frog.
The Warlpiri Australian Aborigines thought the moon and sun were man and woman, and a solar eclipse was coitus on a cosmic scale. Many ancient cultures interpreted eclipses as evil events, and they occasionally did evil things in the hope of preventing bad outcomes. Aztecs offered human sacrifices to the darkening skies.
See if you can eclipse that!