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Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand

Eclipses in 2011

Eclipses of the Sun and Moon during 2011      November 25 eclipse from NZ      Eclipses for other years.

For much more detailed information on eclipses and transits go to Fred Espenak's eclipse site.

Viewing Eclipses of the Sun and Transits of Planets across the Sun

Whenever the Sun is to be observed safe viewing methods must be used. Any attempt to view the Sun directly could result in instant blindness.

The safest way is to project the image of the Sun onto a suitable screen. Alternatively a suitable, specially designed, Solar filter may be placed in front of the telescope.

It is NOT safe to use a filter at the eyepiece as the focussed heat from the Sun could shatter it.  If unsure of safe methods consult your local astronomical society about suitable ways of observing Solar events.

ECLIPSES DURING 2011

There are six eclipses predicted for 2011, four of the Sun and two of the Moon. The four solar eclipses are all partial events which are only visible from high latitudes, either north or south of the equator. For each of them the central line of the eclipse is off the Earth, beyond the Pole. This will make them all unspectacular and in some cases, very difficult to access, geographically.

Contra-wise the two lunar eclipses are both total, with the Moon going almost centrally through the Earth's shadow for the first, so producing a prolonged period of totality. Near central lunar eclipses are to be expected when solar eclipses are partial as in 2011.

The first solar eclipse of 2011 occurs on January 4. The partial eclipse is visible in the northern hemisphere from most of Europe, north Africa and western parts of Asia.

The second solar eclipse on June 1 is also visible as a partial eclipse in the northern hemisphere. It occurs over all the Arctic regions and is also visible from northeast Canada including Newfoundland and from much of Japan.

The third solar eclipse occurs a month later on July 1, this time visible from the southern hemisphere, but only over a small area of ocean between South Africa and Antarctica.

The last solar eclipse for 2011 occurs on November 25 and is a southern hemisphere event. The partial eclipse is mostly visible from Antarctic regions, but will be visible from the extreme south of South Africa soon after sunrise and from most of New Zealand with the Sun setting while partially eclipsed.

The first lunar eclipse occurs on June 15. This will be a total eclipse, best views being from countries round the Indian Ocean. The first part of the eclipse will be visible from New Zealand, but the Moon will set before the end of the total phase. Australia, especially western Australia will be better placed for viewing at least the entire total phase which lasts for 100 minutes.

The second lunar eclipse is on December 10 and is again total but not as long as in July. All stages of the total eclipse will be visible from New Zealand, the Moon setting during the final penumbral parts of the eclipse. All stages are also visible from Australia, but the best views will be from the northern hemisphere, Japan and east Asia where the Moon will be higher.

Partial eclipse of the Sun January 4. No part visible from New Zealand.
Partial eclipse of the Sun June 1. No part visible from New Zealand.
Total eclipse of the Moon June 15/16, first part of total phase visible from New Zealand.
Partial eclipse of the Sun July 1. Not visible from New Zealand.
Partial eclipse of the Sun November 25, Visible at sunset from New Zealand except north.
Total eclipse of the Moon December 10, all total phase visible from New Zealand.

All diagrams and predictions used on this page have been prepared with the aid of the OCCULT 4 program written by David Herald.


Partial Eclipse of the Sun, 2011 January 4

World map showing visibility of the eclipse

This partial eclipse occurs in the northern hemisphere near midwinter. The eclipse is visible from most of Europe, except the extreme north where the Sun does not rise at this time of year. It is also visible from north Africa and western parts of Asia. At its greatest in north Sweden nearly 86% of the Sun's diameter will be eclipsed.

The Sun will rise in eclipse as seen from northwest Africa, western,central and northern Europe. From London almost 75% of the Moon's disk will be covered at moonrise, from Paris 73%. The Moon sets in eclipse as seen from parts of northern an central Russia.

The central axis of the eclipse misses the Earth's surface by 510km. This eclipse would be annular if it made contact with the Earth's surface.

Safe viewing of Solar eclipses

Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

January 2011 partial eclipse

Partial eclipse of the Sun, 2011 June 1

World map showing visibility of eclipse

This partial eclipse occurs in the northern hemisphere, shortly before midsummer. All parts of the globe to the north of the arctic circle then getting 24 hours of sunlight will see the eclipse. This includes the northern parts of Europe which missed out on the January eclipse. In addition northern parts of Japan, North Korea and eastern parts of Siberia will see the partial eclipse at or soon after sunrise. The eclipsed setting sun will be visible from northern Europe, Newfoundland and northeast Canada

At its greatest extent, just over 60% of the Sun's diameter will be covered by the moon as seen from the arctic coast of northern Siberia. The actual central axis of the eclipse will miss the Earth by about 1350 km where an annular eclipse would occur.

Safe viewing of Solar eclipses


Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

June 2011 partial Solar eclipse

Total eclipse of the Moon, 2011 June 15/16

This eclipse of the Moon is at the full moon between two partial solar eclipses. As a consequence it is a deep total eclipse, with the moon passing almost centrally through the Earth's shadow. This will result in a long and probably dark total eclipse. The duration of totality is slightly over 100 minutes. From start to finish the eclipse lasts just over five and a half hours.

From New Zealand only the first part of the eclipse is visible, the Moon setting during the total phase. The Moon starts entering the penumbral (partial) shadow of the Earth just before 5.25 am on the morning of June 16. Little change will be evident for much of the following hour until the Moon begins to move into the umbral (complete) shadow almost an hour later at 6.23 am. Over the next hour the zone of darkness will spread across the moon until at 7.22 am the total eclipse begins. By then the Moon will be getting very low to the west in NZ. From Auckland it will be just over 1° above the horizon, Wellington 3°, Christchurch just under 6° Dunedin 8° and Invercargill nearly 10°.

For all parts of New Zealand, except places south of Timaru, the Moon will set before the time of mid eclipse, 8:13 am. At Dunedin it will set 10 minutes later and Invercargill 20 minutes later. Times of moonset for a few places further north are 7.34 at Auckland, 7.26 at Gisborne, 7.54 at Wellington and 8.05 at Christchurch.

Australia is better placed for viewing the eclipse, but even there the Moon will set before the end of the eclipse in most parts except the west. The best places for seeing the entire eclipse are much of Africa and much of Asia from the Red Sea to India.

June Lunar eclipse
Path of the Moon through the Earth's shadow


1. First contact with penumbra.
2. First contact with umbra.
3. Beginning of totality.
4. Mid eclipse.
5. End of totality.
6. Last contact with umbra.
7. Last contact with penumbra.



    Visibility and Times of the Eclipse (below)
Visibility of eclipse

Partial eclipse of the Sun, 2011 July 1

World map showing visibility of eclipse

This partial eclipse of the Sun is visible from only a small area of ocean well south of South Africa and, at its southern edge, almost touching part of the coast of Antarctica. Even from within this area only a very small part of the Sun will be covered by the Moon, less than 10% at maximum. The central axis of the eclipse misses the Earth by over 3000 km.

With its remoteness and the slight amount of the Sun's disk covered by the Moon, it is quite possible the eclipse will go completely unobserved.

This slight eclipse marks the start of a new Saros, or series of eclipses which will continue until the year 3237. This Saros is numbered number 156. Saros number 1 started in 2872 BC.

A Saros is also a period of time, 6585.32 days, that is close to 18 years 11 and one-third days. After this period the Sun and Moon and the nodes of the Moon's orbit return to almost the same relative positions. The nodes are where the orbit of the Moon crosses the ecliptic, the ecliptic being the apparent path of the Sun through the stars in a year. This results in eclipses almost repeating themselves at intervals of one Saros. However the match is not exact so the latitude and extent of the eclipses gradually change. Because of the one-third day in the length of the Saros, the longitude of each successive eclipse also changes by about 120 degrees, so that after 3 Saros, about 54 years and 34 days, an eclipse will occur in close to the same position, but at a slightly different latitude.

There will be 69 eclipses in the Saros starting on July 1. The first 8 will be partial, the next 52 annular and then the final 9 partial again. This particular Saros will have no total eclipses.



Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

July 2011 partial Solar eclipse

Partial eclipse of the Sun, 2011 November 25

World map showing visibility of eclipse

The last partial eclipse of the Sun for 2011 occurs in the southern hemisphere, much of it over the Antarctic continent. Since mid November is getting towards midsummer, large parts of the Antarctic have 24 hours of sunlight, resulting in the eclipse being visible right round the globe at high southern latitudes.

Although partial, this eclipse is much deeper than the July 1 eclipse. At its greatest just over 90% of the Sun's disk will be covered by the Moon. The axis of the Moon's shadow misses the Earth by 330 km. If the central part of the Moon's shadow made contact with the Earth, the eclipse would be total.

The eclipse is principally visible from all the Antarctic continent and Ocean. However the early stages reach further north to be visible from the southern parts of South Africa soon after the start of the eclipse. It will also be visible from the island of Georgia where the eclipse will be in progress as the Sun rises.

The final stages of the eclipse are also visible further north, including Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand where the Sun sets during the eclipse. In the southern part of the North Island the eclipse begins very close to the time of sunset. North of a line from about New Plymouth to Napier no stage of the eclipse is visible.

Times for the eclipse as seen from New Zealand

In New Zealand's South Island the eclipse starts a few minutes after 8pm NZDT, and reaches a maximum about 8.40pm. By then the Sun will be very low, and just about setting at Christchurch. In the southern North Island the Sun will set very soon after the eclipse starts and well before maximum, so there the start will only be visible from places with a sea horizon to the west-southwest. North of a line from about New Plymouth to Napier, the sun will set before the start of the eclipse.

The best place to see anything will be from the extreme south of the country. At Invercargill the Sun will be 10° up as the eclipse starts and 4° up at maximum eclipse. The Sun will be slightly higher as seen from Stewart Island. A clear horizon in the direction of the setting Sun (approximately west-southwest) will be needed to see the eclipse at maximum.

At the start of the eclipse, as seen from New Zealand, the moon will move onto the left side of the Sun. At maximum the upper left of the Sun will be covered by the moon. It moves off the top of the Sun at the end of the eclipse. This last stage may be just visible as the Sun sets from the west coast of Stewart Island and the extreme southwest coast of Fiordland at 9.17 pm. For the rest of the South Island the Sun will set while still partially eclipsed.

Circumstances for the start and maximum eclipse in New Zealand

       Place           Time     Sun          Time      Sun        %age Sun
                       Start    Altitude     Maximum   Altitude   Eclipsed
                       NZDT     degrees      NZDT      degrees    at max

       Stewart Is.     8.02 pm    11         8.40 pm     5         31%
       Invercargill    8.03 pm    10         8.41 pm     4         30%
       Dunedin         8.03 pm     8         8.41 pm     2         31%
       Haast           8.08 pm     8         8.44 pm     2         26%
       Timaru          8.06 pm     7         8.42 pm     1         28%
       Christchurch    8.07 pm     5         8.42 pm     0         28%
       Greymouth       8.11 pm     5         8.44 pm     0         25%
       Nelson          8.12 pm     3         sun set

       Wellington      8.10 pm     2         sun set
       Palmerston N    8.12 pm     1         sun set 
       New Plymouth    8.16 pm     1         sun set
       Napier          8.13 pm     0         sun set
  
Important, before attempting to view the Sun read Safe viewing of Solar eclipses


Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

November 2011 partial Solar eclipse

Total eclipse of the Moon, 2011 December 10/11

During this total eclipse the Moon passes through the southerly part of the Earth's shadow so that the north of the Moon is deeper in the shadow. The southern edge of the Moon will not be far from the edge of the Earth's shadow, so is likely to be less dark than the north due to refraction of light in the Earth's atmosphere.

The total phase of this eclipse lasts for just over 50 minutes, with the partial umbral eclipse spanning over 3.5 hours. Most of the eclipse will be visible from New Zealand, the Moon setting during the final penumbral stage. This being a near mid-summer eclipse, the Moon will be low, and get very low in the latter stages. The whole of the eclipse is visible from Australia.

For New Zealand the Moon starts to enter the Earth's penumbral shadow just after 12.30am NZDT on the morning of December 11 and the umbral shadow just after 1.45am. Totality lasts from 3.06 to 3.57 with the deepest eclipse at 3.32 am NZDT. At that time the Moon will be 21° above the horizon in Auckland, 18° at Wellington, 17° at Christchurch and 15.5° at Dunedin and Invercargill. The Moon sets within a few minutes of 6am NZDT (17 hr UT) throughout New Zealand.

December Lunar eclipse
Path of the Moon through the Earth's shadow


1. First contact with penumbra.
2. First contact with umbra
3. Total eclipse starts.
4. Mid eclipse.
5. Total eclipse ends.
6. Last contact with umbra.
7. Last contact with penumbra.



    Visibility and Times of the Eclipse (below)
Visibility of eclipse

All diagrams and predictions used on this page have been prepared with the aid of OCCULT 4 by David Herald.


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