NASA Reference Publication 1178

Fred Espenak
Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986 - 2035

The primary function of NASA Reference Publication 1178 - Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986 - 2035 is to provide a source of moderately detailed eclipse predictions and maps for use by the astronomical community. As such, it permits the identification of the most favorable eclipse opportunities, taking into account the celestial mechanics and geographic locations which are paramount in addressing the scientific goals, the issue of funding and the logistical problems of organizing an expedition to remote destinations.

The secondary purpose is to provide a general reference on future eclipses for teachers, students, amateur astronomers and interested laymen. The solar eclipse is unquestionably the most spectacular celestial phenomenon visible to the naked eye. As such, eclipses generate a great deal of interest among the general public and news media. Naturally, questions arise as to where a particular eclipse will be visible from, and when the next eclipse occurs. Unfortunately, there is very little information in print about the visiblity of future eclipses and what appears in the popular literature is often short on accuracy or even incorrect. Furthermore, most references are obscure, not easily accessible and/or out of print. The orthographic maps in the Fifty Year Canon... show regions of visibility for both umbral and penumbral eclipses. From these, the time and maximum magnitude of partial phases or totality/annularity can be estimated for any locale. Furthermore, the 200 year eclipse catalog (Section 1) and world maps of every umbral eclipse during this period (Section 2) provide a convenient and useful reference.

The Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986 - 2035 is composed of four major sections and two appendices. Section 1 is a catalog which lists the general characteristics of every solar eclipse from 1901 through 2100. Section 2 presents a detailed set of cylindrical projection world maps which show the umbral paths of every solar eclipse from 1901 through 2100. Section 3 gives geodetic path coordinates and local circumstances on the center line for every central eclipse from 1986 through 2035. Finally, section 4 consists of a series of orthographic projection maps which show the regions of visibility of both partial and central phases for every solar eclipse from 1986 through 2035. Appendix A provides some general background on solar eclipses and covers eclipse geometry, eclipse frequency and recurrence, modern eclipse prediction, geometry of the umbral shadow and time determination. Appendix B is a listing of a very simple Fortran program which can be used to predict the occurrence and general characteristics of solar eclipses. It makes use of many approximations while maintaining a reasonable level of accuracy and reliability. The program is based on algorithms devised by Meeus [1982] and the ample comments should make the program self- explanatory.

Permission is freely granted to reproduce any portion of this NASA Reference Publication. All uses and/or publication of this material should be accompanied by an appropriate acknowledgment of the source.

The Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986 - 2035 has been reprinted by Sky Publishing Corporation and may be ordered from them.

2008 Mar 14