26 January 2009 - Chinese New Year & an annular eclipse

Planetarium Closed

Visitor Notice: The Planetarium will be closed April 1 - April 7 for essential maintanance. Tickets may be available for the weekend April 6 - 7 in person on the day. The rest of the Royal Observatory is open as usual. Book tickets your tickets today.

With next Monday's new moon, comes not only Chinese New Year, but also an annular eclipse of the Sun. Annular eclipses are more common than total eclipses, but fewer people are aware of their existence. Both occur when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun. But in the case of an annular eclipse, the disc of the Moon is not large enough to cover the Sun completely. The last annular eclipses to be visible from Britain were on 31 May 2003 and 8 April 1921. The next is not due until 23 July 2093. None of next Monday's eclipse will be visible from Britain and it will probably be seen by relatively few people - not least, because most of its path is over the ocean. The picture below was taken in Spain by Darren Baskill during the annular eclipse on 3 October 2005.