The total eclipse of 1998 February 26 is the fifty-first member of saros series 130 (Table 23), as defined by van den Bergh . All eclipses in the series occur at the Moon's descending node and gamma1 increases with each member in the family. The series is a mature one which began with a modest partial eclipse at high southern hemisphere latitudes on 1096 Aug 20. After twenty-one partial eclipses in the series and nearly three centuries, the first umbral eclipse occurred on 1475 Apr 5. The event was a two minute total eclipse through the South Pacific. During the next one and a half centuries, the umbral duration continued to increase as each path shifted progressively northward. The greatest umbral duration of Saros 130 occurred during the total eclipse of 1619 Jul 11. Unfortunately, the 6 minute 41 second total eclipse was only visible from equatorial Africa which was virtually inaccessible to astronomers of the day.
As the duration of each succeeding eclipse decreased, the paths reversed their northern migration and drifted southward during the 18th and 19th centuries. This effect occurred as a result of Earth's passage through winter solstice whereby the northern hemisphere tipped away from the Sun. A notable member of the series occurred on 1871 Dec 12. Spectroscopic observations of this event made by French astronomer Pierre Jules Janssen led him to propose that the corona is a physical part of the Sun and is composed of both hot gases and cooler particles. Together with observations of a later eclipse in 1778, it convinced Janssen that the shape of the corona is linked to the sunspot cycle.
The northbound trend of the Saros series resumed with the eclipse of 1908 Jan 3. At this point, the duration of totality at greatest eclipse had dropped to 4 minutes 14 seconds. The most recent member occurred on 1980 February 20 and its path crossed East Africa, the Indian Ocean and central India. After 1998, the next member occurs on 2016 Mar 9 and passes through Indonesia and the Pacific. The total eclipse of 2034 Mar 20 swings through central Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Three saros cycles after 1998, the series returns to the western hemisphere producing a path passing through central Mexico and the southeastern United States in on 2052 March 30 (Map of Eclipses in North America - 2051 - 2100). The duration of totality drops as Saros 130 continues to produce total eclipses during the 22nd century. The last umbral eclipse of the series occurs on 2232 Jul 18 and lasts a maximum of 1 minute 14 seconds. The final nine eclipses of the series are all partial events in the polar regions of the northern hemisphere. The family terminates with the partial eclipse of 2394 Oct 25. A detailed list of eclipses in saros series 130 appears in Table 23.
In summary, Saros series 130 includes 73 eclipses with the following distribution:
Saros 130 Partial Annular Ann/Total Total Non-Central 30 0 0 0 Central - 0 0 43
1 Minimum distance of the Moon's shadow axis from Earth's center in units of equatorial Earth radii.
Gamma defines the instant of greatest eclipse and takes on negative values south of the Earth's center.
Adapted from NASA RP 1398 "Total Solar Eclipse of 1998 February 26".
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