All eclipses are noteworthy. But the two eclipses that take place in May 2013 are remarkable mostly for how unremarkable they are.
Annular Solar EclipseBy far the more impressive event is the annular solar eclipse that takes place on May 10th in Australia and on May 9th in the Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line. Annular eclipses are fine spectacles, though nowhere near as dramatic as total solar eclipses.
However, this one passes over very few people's homes. The path of annularity starts in sparsely populated northern Australia and then heads out across the Pacific, touching relatively few islands. Even the partial phase is visible from a very small amount of land. Residents of Honolulu will see about a third of the Sun's disk covered at mid-eclipse (3:48 p.m. local time) .
See NASA's annular solar eclipse web page for complete details.
Regardless where you are, you can catch the "ring of fire" online by visiting the following live webcasts:
- Coca Cola Space Science Center (webcast begins 5:00 p.m. EDT)
- Slooh Space Camera (webcast begins 5:30 p.m. EDT)
- Solar Eclipse Australia (webcast already live)
Penumbral Lunar EclipseThe penumbral lunar eclipse that takes place from 3:53-4:27 Universal Time on May 25th (May 24th in most of North America) is a totally different matter. It's conveniently centered over the Americas, but it's of theoretical interest only. The event is totally invisible; only a minuscule portion of the Moon's disk will dip briefly inside the outermost edge of Earth's shadow. Sunlight on the tiny part of the Moon that is affected will be dimmed less than 1% — much too little for even the most sensititve scientific instruments to detect. See NASA's penumbral lunar eclipse web page for complete details.
Larry Koehn has superb animations of both eclipses — as well as many other scenes of interest — on his website Shadow & Substance. Scroll down near the bottom to find these and other eclipses.