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April 28, 2014 - Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire The Sun, 400 times farther away than the Moon, is also 400 times bigger, so both appear about the same apparent size. This coincidence is why we occasionally see total solar eclipses, with the Moon passing directly in front of the Sun and large enough to block it completely. But the Moon’s orbit is not circular, and its apparent size varies slightly during each lunar month; similarly, Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not circular, so the Sun appears larger in January than it does in July. Under certain conditions, such as those occurring on Tuesday of this week for observers in Australia, an annular eclipse occurs, where the Moon is too small to cover the Sun fully, leaving a ring, or annulus, of the Sun exposed. These images by Fred Espenak were taken each minute during the 2005 annular eclipse.

Image credit: Fred Espenak

Weekly Calendar

April 28 - May 4, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Monday 28

1900: Jan Oort born
1906: Bart Bok born
Eugene Shoemaker born
STS-39 Discovery launched
Soyuz TM-32 launched; Dennis Tito becomes first space tourist
GALEX launched
CloudSat and CALIPSO launched

Tuesday 29

New Moon 2:14 AM ET
Annular solar eclipse (visible in Antarctica and Australia)

1985: STS-51B Challenger launched

Wednesday 30

Thursday 1

1949: Gerard Kuiper discovers Nereid, moon of Neptune
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Sun

Friday 2


Saturday 3

2003: ISS Expedition Six crew returns to Earth after 161 days in orbit

Sunday 4

Jupiter 5° north of Moon

1967: Lunar Orbiter IV launched
1989: STS-30 Atlantis launched, releases Magellan spacecraft
2002: Aqua satellite launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.