How Many Solar Eclipses Will You Be Able to See In Your Lifetime?

iStock
iStock

Total solar eclipses, when our view of the Sun is completely blocked out by the Moon, are highly anticipated events. The one appearing over much of the U.S. on August 21 may end up becoming the most-viewed celestial event in history. If you miss this summer's, though, will you ever see another? Denise Lu at The Washington Post can tell you just how many other chances you'll get.

Just put your birth year into the Post's eclipse calculator, and it will tell you how many total solar eclipses have yet to occur worldwide before you reach 100 (assuming that you live to be exactly 100). In the graphic below, the orange line is the path of this summer's total solar eclipse. The purple lines represent future eclipses. The darker the line, the sooner it will occur.

Lines representing solar eclipse paths criss-cross the globe.

Denise Lu / The Washington Post

Though solar eclipses are relatively common worldwide, that doesn't mean they're easy to view. A total solar eclipse hasn't been visible in the contiguous United States since 1979, and the next time a total solar eclipse will pass over the entire country will be in 2045. Personally, the eclipse calculator tells me I have 50 left in my lifetime, but I'll need to move to Asia to see most of them, and unless I get on a boat and chase eclipse trajectories across the ocean, I'm bound to miss a few.

Throughout history, eclipses have proved to be powerful phenomena, and not just because looking at them can damage your eyes. In 585 BCE, a solar eclipse that occurred in the middle of a Greek battle prompted the end of a six-year war. Soldiers saw the sudden darkness in the middle of the day as a sign that they should cease their fighting.

Find out how many eclipses you have left on The Washington Post.

A Rare ‘Full Cold Moon Kiss’ Is Coming This Week—Here’s How to See It

jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images
jamesvancouver/iStock via Getty Images

Every year ends with a cold moon—the name given to a full moon that appears in December. The full cold moon that's lighting up skies in 2019 will come with a bonus spectacle for sky-gazers. As Forbes reports, a planetary "kiss" between Saturn and Venus will coincide with the last full moon of the year. Here's what you need to know about the astronomical events.

What is a Full Cold Moon Kiss?

The full moon of each month has a unique nickname associated with the time of year it occurs. A cold moon happens as temperatures drop and winter settles in, hence the name. December's full moon has also been called the long nights moon by some Native American tribes and the moon Before Yule in Europe, according to Travel and Leisure.

This year's moon will be visible the night of December 11 through the morning of December 12. On this same night, the planets Venus and Saturn will appear closer than usual in the night sky. The celestial bodies will be less than 2° apart and share a celestial longitude, a phenomena known as a conjunction or a planetary "kiss."

How to See the Full Cold Moon Kiss

During twilight on Tuesday, December 10, the bright planet Venus and the dimmer planet Saturn will arrive at their closest conjunction, 1.8° apart, above the southwestern horizon. The following evening, they'll be just .01° further away. Stick around the night of Wednesday, December 11 to catch the full cold moon, which reaches peak illumination at 9:12 p.m. on the West Coast and at 12 minutes after midnight on the East Coast.

Not planning on staying up late to see the moon reach its fullest state? Moonrise on December 11 will be just as spectacular. When the moon surfaces around sunset, it will appear larger and more reddish in color in the sky. Meanwhile, Venus's and Saturn's kiss will be visible 180º away.

[h/t Forbes]

First-Ever Map of Titan Reveals That Saturn’s Moon Is a Lot Like Earth

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho

If there's any life in this solar system outside Earth, we likely won't find it on Mars or even on another planet. Saturn's moon Titan is the place in our celestial neighborhood that's most similar to our own home, and it's where scientists think we have one of the best chances of discovering life. Now, as Nature reports, newly visualized data shows just how much Titan has in common with Earth.

Between 2004 and 2017, the NASA spacecraft Cassini performed more than 100 fly-bys of Saturn's moon. Titan is unique in that it's the only moon in the solar system with clouds and a dense, weather-forming atmosphere. This has made it hard to study from space, but by flying close to the surface, Cassini was able to capture the landscape in an unprecedented level of detail.

Map of Titan.
The first global geologic map of Titan.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA's new map of Titan, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, reveals a varied world of mountains, valleys, plains, and sandy dunes that starkly contrast with the desolate wastelands we've seen on neighboring planets. It's also home to seas and lakes, making it the only place in the solar system other than Earth with known bodies of liquid. But instead of water, the pools mottling the moon's surface consist of liquid methane.

Even with its Earth-like geology and atmosphere, chances of finding life on Titan are still slim: Temperatures on the surface average around -300°F. If life does exist there, it's likely limited to microbes in the moon's craters and icy volcanoes.

It will be a while before NASA is able to study Titan up close again: NASA's next drone mission to the body is set for 2034. Until then, scientists have plenty of data recorded by Cassini to teach them more about how the moon formed and continues to change.

[h/t Nature]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER