Solar Eclipse Sunset: Lake Michigan on May 20
A partial solar eclipse occurs on May 20, 2012, and could be a fascinating sight at sunset over Lake Michigan. Around 8:15 p.m. EDT (UT-4), the sun will be about six degrees (or a dozen of the sun's half-degree diameters) above the horizon when the encroaching moon first becomes apparent. Silhouetted in the foreground, the moon seemingly rises from the sun's lower right limb and moves across to the sun's left. The conjoined pair set concurrently around 9:00 p.m EDT.
The sun appears as a crescent because the foreground moon, moving basically from right to left from earth's perspective, obstructs light coming from the lower part of the sun. See http://youtu.be/tZQIGLL2BaA or click the YouTube video below to watch an animation of the sunset eclipse from the perspective of a viewer looking west over lower Lake Michigan.
Note: always use proper eye protection to view the sun safely. Failure to protect your eyes can result in vision impairment, eye injury, or blindness.
In the western United States, some people will see an annular eclipse as this celestial alignment is visible in its entirety from some discreet locations. As depicted in the visibility diagram at left, Lake Michigan just barely falls within the zone of visibility for the beginning minutes of the 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse. Details about the annular eclipse by Fred Espenak of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center are at http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2012May20Agoogle.html.
The image at right shows the apparent shape of the sun as it nears the Lake Michigan horizon (green line). Members of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society are intending to set up telescopes at Warren Dunes State Park to witness this solar system alignment.
The eclipse is a precursor to another celestial phenomenon happening on June 5, 2012--the rare Transit of Venus. Information about local events, dubbed TROVE, is at www.transitofvenus.org/trove. For a map of events worldwide, see the NASA Event Locations.