Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

The Eclipse of the Midnight Sun

Yesterday, June 1 (on Wednesday), a partial eclipse of the sun was observed from the high latitudes in the Northern hemisphere (near the Arctic Circle) — Siberia and North China, Iceland, Japan, North Korea, Canada, and far northern Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland).

The partial solar eclipse’s path on June 1, 2011. The different shades of red depict the eclipse’s visibility, with the strongest and innermost shade depicting 50 percent visibility, 25 percent visibility, and down to as low as zero percent visibility. Click on the image to view the eclipse animation. Credit: TimeandDate.com

In some places – for example in Tromso, Norway – this event was viewed as an unusual eclipse of the midnight sun. In other words, the sun is still visible above the horizon late at “night”.

According to Knut Jörgen Roed Larsen, an astrophysicist at the Norwegian Center for Science Education in Oslo, 60% of the Solar disc will be covered by the Moon, which is an unusual large amount to be a Midnight Solar Eclipse. The last one occurred on July 31. 2000, but then only 40% of the Solar disc was covered.

A previous midnight sun eclipse, seen from northern Sweden on July 31, 2000. Credit: Oddleiv Skilbrei via NASA.

Since the rotational axis of the Earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees areas located north of 67.5 degrees latitude (the Arctic Circle) experience a period each summer when the Sun does not set – it is a midnight Sun.

At this time of year, he explains, a solar eclipse is theoretically possible at all hours of the day.

And indeed, when the clock stroke local midnight in northern Norway during the end of June 1st, about half of the lingering sun was covered by the Moon.

The eclipse as it was expected to appear in the Tromsø area. Illustration: Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard

This was the first midnight Sun eclipse in Norway since 2000 and the largest one since 1985. Scandinavians must wait until 2084 to have a larger eclipse of the midnight Sun.

The “Greatest eclipse” occurred at 21:16 Universal Time on June 1st. A live webcast of this rare eclipse in Norway was shown from this page. Archived images from the live webcast were also available there.

Since I wasn’t able to catch this live webcast, I will just repost the images of this event shared by my twitter contacts.

This was a  rare celestial event I couldn’t miss to share to everyone. 🙂

Beautiful scenic view with the partially eclipsed Sun from Tromsø, Norway. Shared by @El_Universo_Hoy via @cosmos4u
The Sun at the start of the eclipse as seen from Bodo, Norway. Shared by @Camilla_SDO
The Midnight Sun. Shared by @Astroguyz

See more June 1 Partial Solar Eclipse photos here and here.

I am now more excited to view the next upcoming eclipse this June 15. It will be nice Total Lunar Eclipse visible completely over Africa, South America, Europe, and to most parts of Asia. In western Asia, Australia and the Philippines, the lunar eclipse will be visible just before sunrise on June 16.

Hoping for clear skies! 🙂

One response

  1. Pingback: Skywatching Highlights: June 2011 « Journey to the Stars

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