May 20/21 2012 saw an annular eclipse of the Sun. This is when the disk of the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun, but the Moon is moving towards apogee in its orbit (the point at which it is furthest from the centre of the Earth), so that while the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are all aligned in syzygy, the disc of the moon is not large enough to cover that of the Sun to leave only the solar atmosphere visible (as with a total eclipse), but instead sits “inside” the disk of the Sun, creating what is called a “ring of fire”.
The eclipse was observable from China through Japan, Canada and much of the US from the west coast through to Texas. Images of the event were carried via a number of streams across the Internet, allowing thousands more to share in it.
I watched the event on-line (the sun having set in the UK a long time before the eclipse took place), along with a number of other SL friends who are also interested in astronomy, leading to a lively discussion about the eclipse itself and the possibility of hosting similar events in-world in the future. Our main stream for watching the event was provided by SLOOH Space Camera, which had cameras active in both California and New Mexico, although I was also keeping an eye on another feed from Reno, Nevada, which was transmitting via Ustream.
SLOOH is a superb resource for people interested in astronomy and space exploration, regularly hosting events like observing the eclipse and their images are really excellent. I took the liberty of capturing screen shots of the event, as seen through both of the SLOOH cameras and have put them together in a Flickr slideshow (together with some initial images from the Reno feed and a brilliant photo obtained via the BBC) to try to capture the event.
The next major astronomical event SLOOH will be covering is the Transit of Venus next month, and if technology allows, there may be a chance people will be meeting-up in Second Life to witness the event, which will not occur again for another 105 years. If this can be arranged, I’ll be carrying information on the gathering on this blog nearer the dates of the transit (June 5/6).
In the meantime, the slideshow:
(Click here to view the slideshow full-screen)
ETA: found this amazing shot of the Moon’s shadow on Earth, seen from the ISS (click to enlarge & enjoy):