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Curiosity Rover Sees Solar Eclipse On Mars

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the differenet-view dept.

Mars 46

SchrodingerZ writes "Though solar eclipses are fairly common on Earth (much more in the southern hemisphere), yesterday the Mars Curiosity Rover caught sight of a partial solar eclipse in Gale Crater on the Red planet. The martian moon Phobos took a small bite out of the sun on the 37th day (Sol 37) of the rover's martian mission. The Curiosity Rover was able to take a picture of the rare event through a 'neutral density filter that reduced the sunlight to a thousandth of its natural intensity.' This protects the camera from the intense light rays seen during an eclipse or looking directly at the sun. It is possible a short movie of the event could be compiled from the data in the near future. More solar transits of Mars's moon (including the second moon Deimos) are predicted to happen in the days to come."

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Also (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361617)

World sees civilisation eclipse in the Middle - East

An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (5, Interesting)

Sir_Kurt (92864) | more than 2 years ago | (#41361693)

I don't know where the submitter or editor got his/her eclipse frequency info, but the chances of an eclipse occuring are equal for both hemispheres. If you look at a specific short enough time span, it may appear to favor one hemisphere over another, but the eclipse geometry is symmetrical. There are times that a total eclipse vs. an annular eclipse will favor one hemisphere over another because the distance of the earth from the sun varies, but over any reasonable time scale this will all average out.

Kurt

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (2, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#41361705)

You forgot to factor in the ancient mayan priest ghosts that can control the eclipses at will.

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (3, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#41361817)

More importantly, you forgot that we don't have any infinite time scale to average on, because the world only exists since a finite amount of time, and will stop existing on December 21st later this year. And during this finite timespan, the southern hemisphere did have noticably more solar eclipses!

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362531)

I didn't bother to do some math on this but I'm pretty sure the odds even out after a few hundred years...

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362543)

I meant number of occurences

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364321)

Looking at one single saros cycle that's only part way through its life:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/image/Saros145-big.JPG
it seems to take just over 100 years to go from grazing the top of the earth (1891) to peaking in central europe (lat 47-ish, sin(47)=0.73) and another just over 50 years to peak in saudi arabia (lat 25-ish, sin(25)=0.42). Alas the latitude doesn't take into account the tilt of the earth, so it's hard to extrapolate to find out when the eclipse will be centred at the equator, and subsequently reach the opposite pole. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a saros cycle lived for 500-ish years. In that time, every latitude will have been touched approximately equally, as there'll be as many new ones starting at one pole as there are ending at the other pole.

Of course, there's probably a known figure for the life of a saros cycle's eclipse activity, I just haven't found it with a quick google. But anyway, such a cycle is plenty plenty of time for it to even out, so I'm sure it's true with a span of only a couple of hundred years too, so you didn't really need to reword your claim.

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364515)

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/SEsaros.html :
"Saros 136 will produce 71 eclipses over 1262 years in the following order: 8 partial, 6 annular, 6 hybrid, 44 total, and 7 partial. "

From: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/image/SEpanoramaGvdB-big.JPG
it seems that most cycles have about 50 annular/hybrid/total eclipses, so that would be 900 years of activity.

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362703)

woosh!

Eclipses viewed from MER (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#41361949)

Every location on Mars gets an eclipse by both Phobos and Deimos twice a year.

It's nice that Curiosity is looking into the sky, but it's worth pointing out that this is by no means the first time we've watched eclipses from the surface of Mars-- we've caught both Phobos and Deimos transiting the sun, from both of the the MER rovers:
Spirit http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~lemmon/mer/phobos_transit_104a.gif [arizona.edu]
and Opportunity http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~lemmon/mer/Phobos_Sol45B.gif [arizona.edu]

A nice page from 2006 is here: http://www.bibalex.org/eclipse2006/MarsEclipses.htm [bibalex.org]

Re:Eclipses viewed from MER (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362305)

Every location on Mars gets an eclipse by both Phobos and Deimos twice a year.

You can't even see Phobos from the polar regions (> 70 degrees or so) -- it's always below the horizon -- so how can it eclipse anything?

And the morons mod your crap to +4... gotta love /.

Re:Eclipses viewed from MER (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364875)

You can't even see Phobos from the polar regions (> 70 degrees or so) -- it's always below the horizon -- so how can it eclipse anything?

OK, good point. You get transits (eclipses) at every place on the surface of Mars from which you can see the moons.

No transits of Phobos from locations where you can't see Phobos.

Re:Eclipses viewed from MER (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362507)

A nice page from 2006 is here: http://www.bibalex.org/eclipse2006/MarsEclipses.htm [bibalex.org]

Every location on Mars gets an eclipse by both Phobos and Deimos twice a year.

Dude, re-read your link.

A nice page from 2006 is here: http://www.bibalex.org/eclipse2006/MarsEclipses.htm [bibalex.org]

"The two moons pass between Mars and the Sun so frequently that solar eclipses would not be a rare event to the Martian observer. Phobos eclipses the Sun 1,300 times a year; but the eclipses are so brief, lasting about 20 seconds!"

"As the orbits of Phobos and Deimos lie near the plane of Mars' equator, and due to the proximity of the moons to Mars, Phobos (and its eclipses) cannot be seen above Martian latitude 69, and Deimos (and its eclipses) cannot be seen above latitude 82."

Re:Eclipses viewed from MER (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364447)

Every location on Mars gets an eclipse by both Phobos and Deimos twice a year.

No, only at the equator [agu.org] :

There is a narrow band, centered on the equator of Mars, within which every point is eclipsed at least once during each semiannual eclipse season. Outside that band, the density of coverage decreases slowly with increasing distance from the equator, until the limiting latitudes are reached.

BTW, a surface transit (that is a more appropriate proper term, as neither moon ever fully eclipses the Sun) was also observed by the VIking Lande 1 [nasa.gov] in the 1970's.

And for the Earth solar eclipses, over an 18.6 year cycle, are equally likely in either terrestrial hemisphere.

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362577)

It is probably the submitter's pet theory to reconcile the facts that solar eclipses are fairly common on Earth, and that he never sees one.

Re:An eclipse is NOT more common in S. hemishere (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#41372561)

Well the introductory sentence is a all wrong anyway, Currently it starts off discussing how common eclipses are on Earth, which makes no sense at all. What does the the frequency of eclipses on Earth have to do with anything, unless it is used as a comparison to those on Mars? But that comparison never appears. We still don't know how common they are on Mars,

So perhaps it should say

"Though solar eclipses are fairly common on Mars (much more in the southern hemisphere)......"

Mar's moon? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361727)

What is this Mar they are speaking about?

Re:Mar's moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362209)

What is this Mar they are speaking about?

Well... the only Mar I know of is Andrew Mar, who is a BBC journalist.

But I can't imagine he has his own moons. He's not that big.

Re:Mar's moon? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362495)

Andrew Marr

FTFY, and spoiled the joke too I guess.

Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361741)

Just wanted to say.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361835)

Actually, it's "Mars's". Just because it ends in 's' doesn't mean you treat it like a plural when making it possessive.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362137)

Actually, it does, depending upon whose style manual you are using. In some style manuals, proper names ending with a single "s" take the possessive as "s'" and not "s's" for reasons of euphony; but in all style manuals, proper names ending with a double "ss" take the possessive as "ss's."

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362239)

I think we can all agree it's definitely not Mar's.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41363903)

I think you're making this up. The correct possessive form of a word that ends in 's' is:

Mars’

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41365211)

Fortunately, /. is not any sort of publication that would mandate a particular style guide, so while posting here we can completely disregard any style guide which tells us to break the language in illogical ways "for reasons of euphony". Universally accepted rules might get a pass, but when there's widespread disagreement, choose the logical option.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41366463)

Agnosticism is the only logical option, as it is the only option that can be defended on logical grounds.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41372225)

In school English lessons, we learned that it should be

Mars' Moon

i.e.: put the apostrophe there, but not an additional s.

Re:Mars' not Mar's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361861)

Actually Mars's, since Mars is not a plural.

(There's also a dubious exception for proper nouns ending with two 's' sounds, such as Moses->Moses' or Isis->Isis', but Mars doesn't qualify, and that rule's silly anyway).

Eclipse, or transit? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361767)

I thought we only called it an eclipse when the occluding body is of comparable angular diameter? Phobos is something like half the solar diameter (depending on latitude); I'd call it a transit.

Re:Eclipse, or transit? (5, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#41361989)

And you're probably the same asshat that declassified Pluto as a planet.

Re:Eclipse, or transit? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361993)

I don't know what the official rules are for the nomenclature; however how about making it this: if the observer is on a body and the occlusion is caused by a moon of said body it is an eclipse. If the occlusion is viewed from space or is caused by a body that is not orbiting the body on which the observation occurs, call it a transit.

Re:Eclipse, or transit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41362205)

In a lunar eclipse, the occluding body is the earth. The earth is not of comparable angular diameter as seen from earth. It is not even of comparable angular diameter as seen from the moon.

Re:Eclipse, or transit? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364545)

Eclipse : nearer body covers the other body
Partial eclipse : the body could cover the other body, but doesn't (i.e., it nicks it).
Transits : the nearer body is not big enough to cover the other body. Phobos and Deimos, as seen from the surface of Mars, fall in this category.

The angular size of the Moon is so close to that of the Sun, as seen from the Earth, that a special kind of transit is possible, which has a special term - an annular eclipse, where a thin ring of the Sun's surface is still visible (because the Moon is near apogee, and far enough away to not fully cover the Sun). This is a special case; the term annular eclipse has a long history, and I have never heard it used to describe any other kind of transit.

Re:Eclipse, or transit? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364461)

Yes, properly these are transits, not partial eclipses.

SW Reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361897)

That's No Moon!!

Not Fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41361935)

I've been on earth for how many years and I've only seen a couple. Curiosity has only been on Mars for like a month and it's already seen one. By next month it'll have seen 2. In a year it will have seen 12.

Moon? (0)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362197)

That's no moon...

PHOBOS (2)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362563)

Did anyone else read "Phobos" in the Quake 3 Arena guy's voice?

itty bitty moons (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#41362877)

Aren't *all* eclipses of Mars partial?

Re:itty bitty moons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41363121)

Depends how long your ladder is.

Re:itty bitty moons (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#41363165)

Depends on whether you consider an annular eclipse to be partial or not.

Science? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41363917)

Isn't the rover supposed to be on the go towards places where it can make some of the most important discoveries for humanity? As in did Mars ever have life or will it be able to support life?

Maybe a shot of Earth with the 1500 mm chem cam would be cool as it's never been done before but I find this partial eclipse distraction shot wide angle really lame.

Re:Science? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41364899)

Just because you find it a lame, artsy shot, doesn't mean that science isn't happening. Oh, and like it or not, the only way NASA is going to get funding for future missions is by mass market appeal, and that means lame, artsy shots.

Re:Science? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41381653)

yep, wouldn't want to test out the instruments before getting to the good place to make sure they are in good working order. Also who says the rover paused for more than a few seconds to tale this shot. Adjust arm while moving, pause to take shot, continue moving while parking arm again.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#41366977)

Sun take bite out of Phobos!
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