Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar eclipse May 21, 2012 in Japan

Time to get nerdy!
For the past couple of months businesses and news media in Japan have been ramping up their merchandising and coverage of this year’s solar eclipse. Solar eclipses are pretty rare events and any opportunity to witness one is quite a treat. From what I’ve heard, a solar eclipse hasn’t happened in my part Japan for about 173 years so this is quite a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I got a neat flyer from one of the schools I teach at along with a lot of supplementary information from the office. The flyer was some practical Japanese practice for me especially since it was about something I wanted to learn more about. I brought it home for my wife to read but she glanced it over and set it aside. I was hoping she’d be a little more interested in the technical aspects of this solar phenomenon but at least she wants to view it with me.
In preparation for the solar eclipse my wife and I bought a special set of protective eye gear to block out retina burning ultraviolet sunrays. For the past month or so most places were selling things similar to the ones we bought for 1000+ yen each. We were fortunate enough to grab ours at a much more acceptable price. I know they work because I blasted it with UV rays from my TV remote. Couldn’t see a thing with my camera when the special glasses were between it ant the camera. Neat!
EPSON002Even with all the preparation and hype this whole eclipse can get poopooed by good old Japanese weather. For the past few days this week its been cloudy and tomorrow, when the eclipse will happen, it will probably be no different. The weather forecasters on TV have probably been walking on eggshells all week knowing that weather probably won’t be its best for viewing the solar eclipse. Even so, they continue to give wishy-washy weather predictions. Eh, whatever, I’m hoping for clear skies but I’ll most likely get patchy clouds at best. Just as long as I can get a picture of it with my camera through the lens of the glasses I bought I’ll be a happy amateur astronomer!
EPSON003The solar eclipse will happen early in the morning of May 21st. I usually wake up around the time the eclipse will be at its fullest so I’ve got to set my alarm forward so I don’t miss it.
The solar eclipse isn’t the only thing special happening this week. I also have a birthday and marriage anniversary around the same time. This is going to be a busy and probably expensive week all in good fun.

Edit- Depending on where you are in Japan, your times to view the eclipse will vary. Follow this link to see times for other regions of Japan. If you are reading this after the morning of the 21st of May 2011, sorry you're out of luck.

Edit 2: I wrote a separate blog post with picutres of the cloudy annular solar eclipse. It can be found here.


  1. It will be at its fullest at 7:33am where I live but the moon will start blocking part of the sun by 6:19am.

    Please follow this link to see times for other points across Japan. It depends on where you are.