Popular UND Astronomy Team To Webcast Sunday’s Rare Solar Eclipse

WHO/WHAT: A popular University of North Dakota eclipse-chasing team–Tim Young, an astrophysicist in the UND Department of Physics and Astrophysics, and Ron Marsh, professor and chair of UND Computer Science–is in California to capture a rare annular, or “ring of fire”, solar eclipse Sunday afternoon, May 20.

WHERE: The UND team is in Redding, Calif., to capture the event in collaboration with a team from Shasta College. Catch the entire Webcast at www.sems.und.edu

WHEN: Webcast starts at 7 p.m., Central Daylight Time and ends at about 9:40 p.m., at  www.sems.und.edu

Details: A rare annular solar eclipse is set for Sunday, May 20, and will best be visible in this country in the West and Southwest. The eclipse is set to begin around 5:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (7:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time), when the Moon begins to cross the Sun. The the Moon will be over the Sun for about eight minutes. The eclipse ends around 7:36 p.m. Pacific (9:36 p.m. Central).

Sunday’s show will be captured by UND scientists Tim Young and Ron Marsh with two refracting telescopes: a 70 mm Ranger and an 80 mm Orion. The size in millimeters refers to diameter of the objective, or main front lens and measures the telescope’s light-gathering capability. Refracting means a tubular telescope that uses its main lens to form an image directly through the eyepiece, without any convex mirrors or prisms (a small flat mirror can be used at viewing end to reflect the image up through a viewing eyepiece).

The UND team is collaborating with Shasta College to host a public viewing and live Webcast of the eclipse.

“We’ve been waiting for this one for a long time,” said Young. “The last one was seen in this country was in 1994 (annular), and the next one visible here won’t be until 2017 (total).”

An annular eclipse is an unusual because the Moon is a little bit further in its orbit around the Earth,” Young said. “This means that the apparent disk of the moon is smaller and when lined up with the sun it is smaller. It is very similar to holding a dime and a nickel together with their centers aligned. The edge of the nickel is seen all around on the outside.”

Useful links:
UND solar eclipse blog and Webcast

NASA solar eclipse news

Juan Miguel Pedraza
UND Office of University Relations
701-777-6571 office
701-740-1321 cell