published Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Sunday’s solar eclipse not visible in Chattanooga region

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On Sunday, people in some parts of Earth will look to the sky to see a glorious solar eclipse, a phenomenon in astronomy when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun during a new moon.

But this area “ain’t going to see nothing,” said Bill Cooke, a NASA astronomer based at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia’s global positioning is to blame, according to Jack Pitkin, operations manager for the Clarence T. Jones Observatory on Brainerd Road.

When the solar eclipse occurs, the southern United States will have already exhausted its daytime and be settling into night, Pitkin said. A solar eclipse is hard to experience when there will hardly be any sun.

Parts of Europe and Asia, plus the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans will be graced by the eclipse’s appearance.

“It’ll be there, we just won’t see it,” Pitkin said. “The sun and moon aren’t lined up over Chattanooga. That’s why I haven’t paid much attention to it. It doesn’t concern us.”

Although another eclipse is set for November, it’s one that will happen on Aug. 21, 2017, that has Cooke excited.

“If you can wait five years, we’ll have a total eclipse over Tennessee,” he said. “This one is just a warm-up.”

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