What will the total solar eclipse in Antarctica look like from the Moon?
It might sound like the remote location of a meteorite strike in Antartica—a continent forever linked to the great British explorer—but Shackleton Crater is soon going to be the hottest place to go on the Moon.
That’s despite this permanently shadowed 12.5 miles/21 kilometer-diameter crater being cosmically cold.
Shackleton Crater is almost coincident with the Moon’s South Pole. Close by are Amundsen Crater and Scott Crater.
Shackleton Crater is almost coincident with the Moon’’ South Pole. Close by are Amundsen Crater and … [+]
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Shackleton Crater is special because it’s thought to host water ice in its permanent shadowed areas. It could therefore one day host lunar bases, as suggested by the recent Apple TV show For All Mankind.
It’s where NASA intends to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in the mid-2020s as part of the Artemis-3 mission (though first will come Artemis-1 in February 2022).
Those plans could easily be delayed, but either way if Shackleton Crater does become the location of the first lunar bases then perhaps one day it will be visited by space tourists—including eclipse-chasers after a unique view.
A visualization of Shackleton crater. The near (Earth-facing) side of the Moon is to the right. … [+]
NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
That is why it matters.
On December 4, 2021 it will be possible to see the total solar eclipse happening on Earth from Shackleton Crater as a dark shadow moving across Earth as it sits low in the sky.
“The Earth will always be very near the horizon during a total solar eclipse, so whether it’s visible depends a lot on your location and the surrounding local terrain,” said Ernie Wright at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, in an email to me. “But I think there are lots of good places near the lunar south pole to see the December 4, 2021 total solar eclipse.”
Wright recently published a fascinating visualization of the Earth and Sun from the Moon’s South Pole.
On Saturday the Moon’s shadow will travel across the “top” of the Earth as seen from the Moon’s South Pole. That’s all about perspective. “It helps that the shadow during the 2021 eclipse travels across the top of the Earth from the lunar south pole point of view,” said Wright, “because the Earth’s altitude is always pretty near zero during eclipses.”
From the Moon’s South Pole the Earth bobs up and down, never veering far from 0° longitude, while the Sun glides around the horizon, never more than 1.5º above or below it, according to Wright.
The Earth’s altitude at the South Pole depends mainly on where the Moon is in its orbit. Eclipses can only occur near one of the two nodes of its orbital path, specifically the points where it crosses the plane of the ecliptic, the Sun’s apparent path through our sky.
We can get a similar view of the Moon’s shadow on the Earth from NASA satellites. Here’s what last year’s total solar eclipse across Chile and Argentina looked like from space:
Here’s something similar taken from closer-in, from the International Space Station (ISS) during a total solar eclipse:
stronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this image of the Moon’s shadow cast … [+]
But on Saturday there’s really only one place to be in the Solar System to experience the total solar eclipse. That’s in the Scotia Sea deep in the shadow of a New Moon. During the short event the Moon will fit perfectly across the disk of the Sun to create one of the Solar System’s greatest spectacles.
However, while watching the Moon’s shadow sweep across the top of the Earth during a total solar eclipse would be a cool sight indeed, perhaps the best view of an eclipse from the Moon would be during a total lunar eclipse.
With the lunar horizon in the foreground, the Earth will pass in front of the Sun on Wednesday, May … [+]
During that event—which almost took place last week and will happen next in May 2022—the view from the Moon is of the Earth blocking the Sun. In other words, a total solar eclipse.
If you were on the Moon during a lunar eclipse you would see just a dark Earth with a halo of red-orange light around it—literally all the sunrises and sunsets simultaneously.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
Source by www.forbes.com