Friday August 1st is the date of the next Total Solar Eclipse. Like lunar eclipses, solar eclipses happen frequently but total solar eclipses are somewhat less common and furthermore, to see a total solar eclipse you generally have to travel to a narrow track (unlike Lunar Eclipses which are visible from just about anywhere on the night side of the earth).
The eclipse this week follows a very narrow track across the arctic regions of the globe and finishes across Siberia and western China. The Exploratorium of San Francisco is sending a crew to report on the eclipse including a live video linkup and webcast from the ground in China. For the hard core eclipse fans who want to feel some of the excitement without leaving the Bay Area, the Exploratorium is having an all night party. The Exploratorium did this for the last total solar eclipse in Turkey (both broadcasting live from Turkey and having a party at the Exploratorium). I had the good fortune to travel to Turkey and witness that solar eclipse from Side on the Mediterranean coast.
Given that the eclipse happens during the afternoon in China, it will be very early Friday morning here in California (4 am). For those who want to watch it live on the internet, you will have to get up early. And for those who are into long-range planning, the next Total Solar Eclipse is in July 2009 in Asia and the Pacific, and in 2017 in the United States.
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