A total lunar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse and the largest sunspot in the past quarter century.
October was crowded with astronomical delights, led by eclipses of the Moon (early morning of October 8) and the Sun (October 23). But as all skywatchers well know, there’s always the weather factor. From my observing site in eastern Ontario, I was zero for two. Maybe memory is failing me, but the year 2014 has seemed cloudier and damper than most.
However, it is a big country, and plenty of astronomy enthusiasts did see and photograph the eclipses, including the massive once-in-a-generation giant sunspot (below) punctuating the Sun during the partial solar eclipse.
The spot was easily visible for four or five days before and after eclipse day for observers with safe solar-viewing glasses, such as the ones supplied in the May/June 2012 SkyNews, or a #14 welder’s filter (telescope stores usually stock one or the other).
Using such protective filters, the humongous spot, which is almost the size of Jupiter, could be discerned as a complex structure without optical aid. No spot that big has been seen on the Sun since 1990. (A cautionary note: Never succumb to the temptation to use eclipse glasses to view the Sun through a telescope or binoculars!)
Editor Terence Dickinson invites your comments and astronomy-related observations and photos, which can be directed to him at dickinsonSkyNews@gmail.com.
Check out the January/February issue of SkyNews (on newsstands now) for an expanded version of Terence Dickinson’s Editor’s Report.