Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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Dec 20

The Next Great Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse
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Partial Solar Eclipse
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"". . . and the Sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist hovers over all."

~Homer, The Odyssey

Were you in the path of the totality in 2017 for "The Great American Solar Eclipse"? Ready for the next one?

On August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traversed the United States.  The path of the moon's umbral shadow began in the northern Pacific and crossed the USA from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. The moon's penumbral shadow produced a partial eclipse visible from a large region covering most of North America.  This was known as the Great American Solar Eclipse.

Total solar eclipses are not uncommon, but easily accessible viewing locations are.  If you are an eclipse chaser, you can travel far and wide to all ends of the earth this special view.

The solar eclipse tartan, by designer Carol A.L. Martin, was inspired by another partial solar eclipse of Jan. 4th, 2011, seen across Europe.

In eclipse-related archaeology, the recent advancements in x-ray imaging and 3-D modeling have allowed new insights into the mysterious Antikythera, originally recovered in 1900 fro the wreck of a Roman vessel off the Greek island of Antikythera.

 

Among the other treasures from the shipwreck was a corroded lump, which over time, fell apart revealing a damaged machine of unknown purpose, with some large gears and many smaller cogs, plus a few engraved words in Greek.  Early studies suggested it was some type of astronomical time-keeping device.  

Recent imaging and modeling techniques  have revealed the complex and detailed gear interactions.  Probably built around 150 B.C. and using nothing but an ingenious system of gears, the mechanism could be used to predict the month, day and hour of an eclipse, and even accounted for leap years. It could also predict the positions of the sun and moon against the zodiac, and has a gear train that turns a black and white stone to show the moon's phase on a given date.

Devices with this level of complexity were not seen again for almost 1,500 years, and the Antikythera mechanism's compactness actually bests the later designs.

Interested in seeing the next great eclipse?  Click the partial eclipse for upcoming eclipses in the next decades.