Home > Eclipses, Ephemeris Program, Year preview > 01/06/2014 – Ephemeris – It will be a year of eclipses for northern Michigan!

01/06/2014 – Ephemeris – It will be a year of eclipses for northern Michigan!

January 6, 2014

Ephemeris for Monday, January 6th.  The sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 5:18.   The moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:07 tomorrow morning.

The year 2014 will be a year of eclipses.  World wide it will have the minimal number of eclipses possible, four.  However, lucky us, we will see three of them if it’s clear, that is.  The first is a total eclipse of the moon in the wee morning of Tax Day, April 15th.  It will be the best of the three because we will see it from beginning to end.  On October 8th we will have another lunar eclipse is the morning.  This one will start closer to dawn, so the kids can see this one by getting up early.  The total phase will be visible, but the moon will set as the moon is leaving the earth’s shadow.  The last will be a partial solar eclipse on October 23rd. when the eclipse will be interrupted by sunset.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


My Article in January’s Stellar Sentinel, the newsletter of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society.

After a drought in visible eclipses seen from our part of the planet last year and a single partial solar eclipse the year before, we have a chance, weather permitting, to view two total lunar eclipses and the first half of a partial solar eclipse this year. OK, we did have a penumbral lunar eclipse last year, but I usually don’t count penumbral eclipses, since the casual observer may look at the moon and not know they are occurring.  They’re what I call a 5 o’clock shadow eclipse, where parts of the moon are illuminated by a partially blocked sun.  There is no obvious dragon or Cookie Monster nibbling at the moon.

Eclipse Seasons

In 2014 the two eclipse seasons are in April and again in October.  These are about six months apart centered around the moon’s ascending and descending nodes, where the plane of the Moon’s orbit crosses the Earth’s orbital plane when the new moon’s shadow can fall upon the earth and the earth’s shadow can fall on the full moon.
The line of nodes regresses westward or clockwise slowly in an 18.6 year period.  That means that the eclipse seasons slowly move backward through the calendar.  Every time the sun passes a node there are either two or rarely, three eclipses.  Either one each of lunar and solar separated by two weeks from the other.  Or, rarely, a central eclipse with 2 weeks before and two weeks later a very partial eclipse near the poles in the case of solar eclipses or penumbral eclipses in the case of lunar eclipses.  2014 is a year of two total lunar eclipses and two partial solar eclipses near the poles.


A means of predicting eclipses was developed by the Chaldeans in what is now Iraq some centuries before the common era (BC or BCE).  The Greeks learned of it.  Hipparchus and Ptolemy knew of it.  Solar and lunar eclipses repeat every 18 years 11 1/3 days.  This cycle was called the Saros by Sir Edmund Halley of Halley’s Comet fame, then Astronomer Royal in England.
The saros is the near coincidence of 3 lunar “months”:  the Synodic Month, or lunation the period between new moons; the Draconic Month, the period between the moon’s passage of the ascending node of its orbit as explained above; and the Anomalistic Month, the period between passages of the moon through perigee, the closest point in its orbit to the earth.
The synodic month is on average 29.530589 days, and the basis for the Jewish and Islamic lunar calendars.
The draconic month is 27.212220 days long on average.  The ascending node regresses westward, so meets the moon, traveling eastward than the synodic month, where it has to catch up with the eastward moving sun.  Remember the dragon eating the sun image from above. The ancients thought a dragon lived at the nodes to devour the Sun or Moon in eclipses.  The symbol for the ascending node:DragonsHeadis called the Dragon’s Head. For the descending node the symbol is inverted and called the Dragon’s Tail. These symbols may be seen on orbital diagrams.
The anomalistic month is 27.554551 days.  In celestial mechanics an anomaly doesn’t means anything is wrong, it’s the angle between, in the case of the moon, the perigee of its orbit and the position of the moon as seen from the earth.  It has to do with the perigee and that’s why it’s used.
It turns out that:
223 Synodic Months = 6585.322 days
242 Draconic Months = 6585.8 days
239 Anomalistic months = 6585.5 days
Thus the Saros cycle is 6585.322 days long, or 18 years 11 1/3 days, meaning that the next eclipse of that Saros occurs a third of the earth in longitude west of the previous eclipse.  It takes three saros cycles for an eclipse to repeat near the same longitude.  For instance, my first total solar eclipse was viewed from Quebec on July 20, 1963. The third Saros of that eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017.  I expect to be around to see that, my 5th total solar eclipse.  The path will shift southward and be seen across the continental United States.
There are something like 40 Saros cycles active at one time.  Eclipses at the descending node head southward each eclipse, while those at the ascending node move northward.

The Eclipses of 2014

Here are the dates of the eclipses:
Total Lunar Eclipse April 15, 2014
Total Lunar Eclipse October 8, 2014
Partial Solar Eclipse October 23, 2014
Interestingly, all these eclipses will occur in the western part of the sky for us in northern Michigan.  Both October eclipses will end with the eclipsed body setting before the official end of the eclipse.  This means that both lunar eclipses are early morning eclipses and the solar eclipse will be a late afternoon eclipse.
Lunar eclipses start and end with the moon traveling through the earth’s penumbral shadow.  It’s been my experience that this shadow only becomes visible in the half hour before and after the partial phases of the eclipse. The partial phase of the Tuesday April 15th lunar eclipse will start at 1:58 a.m., totality starts at 3:06 and ends at 4:24; with the partial phase ending at 5:33 as twilight begins to brighten.
The Wednesday October 8th lunar eclipse will start later in the morning.  The partial phase will start at 5:14 a.m. Totality will run from 6:25 to 7:24 a.m. all in the growing morning twilight.  Sunrise and moonset will interrupt the eclipse by 7:57.
The partial solar eclipse is on Thursday October 23.  The eclipse will begin around 5:33 p.m. for Traverse City with sunset at 6:44.  Times and whether the eclipse is visible at all depend on the location of the observer.

NASA diagrams, maps, and more information on these eclipses can be found here.

  1. January 12, 2014 at 6:21 am

    this is interesting i can’t wait to tell my freinds

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