Solar eclipse of February 26, 1979

Last updated
Solar eclipse of February 26, 1979

1979 eclipse 3.tif

Totality as seen from Bozeman, Montana
SE1979Feb26T.png
Map
Type of eclipse
Nature Total
Gamma 0.8981
Magnitude 1.0391
Maximum eclipse
Duration 169 sec (2 m 49 s)
Coordinates 52°06′N94°30′W / 52.1°N 94.5°W / 52.1; -94.5
Max. width of band 298 km (185 mi)
Times (UTC)
Greatest eclipse 16:55:06
References
Saros 120 (59 of 71)
Catalog # (SE5000) 9462

A total solar eclipse occurred in North America on Monday, February 26, 1979.

Solar eclipse natural phenomenon wherein the Sun is obscured by the Moon

A solar eclipse occurs when an observer passes through the shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks ("occults") the Sun. This can only happen when the Sun, Moon and Earth are nearly aligned on a straight line in three dimensions (syzygy) during a new moon when the Moon is close to the ecliptic plane. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Contents

A solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide.

Moon Earths natural satellite

The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth and is Earth's only permanent natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits. The Moon is after Jupiter's satellite Io the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known.

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth revolves around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

The central shadow of the moon passed through the American states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana (where totality covered almost the entire state), and North Dakota, the Canadian provinces Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, the Northwest Territories of Canada (the portion that is now Nunavut), and Greenland.

Washington (state) State of the United States of America

Washington, officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first president of the United States, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State, to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, which is often shortened to Washington.

Oregon State of the United States of America

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast of the United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary with Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada. Oregon is one of only three states of the contiguous United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

Idaho State of the United States of America

Idaho is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and an area of 83,569 square miles (216,440 km2), Idaho is the 14th largest, the 12th least populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state's capital and largest city is Boise.

Visibility

Animation of eclipse path Solar eclipse animate (1979-Feb-26).gif
Animation of eclipse path

Many visitors traveled to the Pacific Northwest to view the Monday morning eclipse, [1] as it was the last chance to view a total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States for almost four decades. The next opportunity was 38½ years later on August 21, 2017, also a Monday.

Pacific Northwest region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and (loosely) by the Cascade Mountain Range on the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U.S. states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Broader conceptions reach north into Southeast Alaska and Yukon, south into northern California, and east of the Continental Divide to include Western Montana and parts of Wyoming. Narrower conceptions may be limited to the coastal areas west of the Cascade and Coast mountains. The variety of definitions can be attributed to partially overlapping commonalities of the region's history, culture, geography, society, and other factors.

Contiguous United States 48 states of the United States apart from Alaska and Hawaii

The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states on the continent of North America. The terms exclude the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all other off-shore insular areas. These differ from the related term continental United States which includes Alaska but excludes Hawaii and insular territories.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Although the path of totality passed through Portland shortly after sunrise (maximum at 8:14 am PST), [2] it was not directly observable due to overcast skies in northwestern Oregon. [3] [4]

Portland, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2017, Portland had an estimated population of 647,805, making it the 26th-largest city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 18th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.

Pacific Time Zone North American time zone

The Pacific Time Zone (PT) is a time zone encompassing parts of western Canada, the western United States, and western Mexico. Places in this zone observe standard time by subtracting eight hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−8). During daylight saving time, a time offset of UTC−7 is used.

About a half hour later, the path of totality was in Manitoba and passed through cloudless Winnipeg in the late morning, maximum was at 10:48 am CST. [5] The greatest eclipse occurred seven minutes later at 10:55 am CST.

Winnipeg Provincial capital city in Manitoba, Canada

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. Centred on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, it is near the longitudinal centre of North America, approximately 110 kilometres (70 mi) north of the Canada–United States border.

Central Time Zone time zone

The North American Central Time Zone (CT) is a time zone in parts of Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, some Caribbean Islands, and part of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

In literature

Writer Annie Dillard viewed the eclipse from the Yakima Valley, in central Washington State. She described her impressions of the eclipse in an essay, "Total Eclipse," first published in the magazine Antaeus and then in her collection, Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982). It was later selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays of the [20th] Century (2000). [6] Dillard describes a nearly overwhelming emotional experience, as suggested in this quotation: "I pray you will never see anything more awful in the sky." Describing the reactions of other onlookers, she relates "I heard screams."

The 1979 eclipse was also referenced in the opening pages of Douglas Coupland's novel, Generation X.

Rural yardlights automatically turned on during totality in Bozeman, Montana 1979 eclipse 4.tif
Rural yardlights automatically turned on during totality in Bozeman, Montana

A partial lunar eclipse occurred on March 13, 1979, 15 days later, visible over Africa, Europe and Asia. A total lunar eclipse followed on September 6, 1979.

Solar eclipses of 1979–1982

Each member in a semester series of solar eclipses repeats approximately every 177 days and 4 hours (a semester) at alternating nodes of the Moon's orbit.

Saros 120

It is a part of Saros cycle 120, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, containing 71 events. The series started with partial solar eclipse on May 27, 933 AD, and reached an annular eclipse on August 11, 1059. It was a hybrid event for 3 dates: May 8, 1510, through May 29, 1546, and total eclipses from June 8, 1564, through March 30, 2033. The series ends at member 71 as a partial eclipse on July 7, 2195. The longest duration of totality was 2 minutes, 50 seconds on March 9, 1997. [7]

Metonic cycle

The metonic series repeats eclipses every 19 years (6939.69 days), lasting about 5 cycles. Eclipses occur in nearly the same calendar date. In addition, the octon subseries repeats 1/5 of that or every 3.8 years (1387.94 days).

Notes

  1. "Eclipse chased across Northwest". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). (New York Times). February 27, 1979. p. 1A.
  2. "Total Eclipse". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). February 25, 1979. p. 6.
  3. "Thick clouds hide eclipse from many". Eugene Register-Guard. (Florida). Associated Press. February 26, 1979. p. 1A.
  4. "Sun gives a wink to Northwest U.S." Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. February 26, 1979. p. 1.
  5. Van, Jon (February 27, 1979). "Eclipse turns morning to night at 10:48 am". Chicago Tribune. p. 2, sec. 1.
  6. Atwan, Robert (2001-10-10). Oates, Joyce Carol, ed. The Best American Essays of the Century (Reprint ed.). Mariner Books. ISBN   9780618155873.
  7. http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/SEsaros120.html

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References

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