The 2001 Eclipse:
Paths and Details

All diagrams © Fred Espenak

World Path

2001 Eclipse: World

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The Total Solar Eclipse of 21 June 2001. The dark blue region is the path of totality (also known as the umbra).

The umbra shadow travels from west to east (left to right on the map). At the point of greatest eclipse, totality is at local midday. The duration of totality at greatest eclipse is 4 minutes 56 seconds. This occurs in the Atlantic Ocean. On either side of that point, the duration is less. To the West of greatest eclipse the eclipse will be total before local noon; East of it, totality will be seen after local noon. The umbra is widest around the time of greatest eclipse as the Earth is bulging out towards the Moon in that region.

The area on either side of the path of totality (in pale blue) will provide a partial eclipse, the magnitude decreasing with distance from the path of totality. Beyond that region, no eclipse is visible. The sub-solar point is the location where the Sun is overhead at the time of greatest eclipse. The Sun is overhead well North of the equator in June. The parts in red are the regions where the eclipse occurs during sunrise (left) or sunset (right).

The ellipses and circles are the positions of the umbra at 10 minute intervals. The umbra becomes more circular near the region of greatest eclipse as the angle between the surface of the Earth and the umbra becomes more perpendicular.

The path of totality begins in the Atlantic Ocean (off the coast of Brazil), crosses southern Africa, Madagascar, ending in the Indian Ocean. The umbra takes 2 hours 51 minutes to traverse its entire path.

Path Across Africa

2001 Eclipse: Africa

The path of totality is the pair of black lines with the reddish colouring between them, moving across Africa from left to right.

In this part of the path the eclipse occurs after local noon. The path travels across Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. It takes about 40 minutes for the umbra to cross Africa.

The ellipses and circles are the positions of the umbra at ten minute intervals (all in Universal Time which is essentially GMT). For each position, the accompanying boxes contain the time, the duration of totality, and the altitude of the Sun. The umbra becomes less circular from left to right as the angle between the surface of the Earth and the umbra becomes less perpendicular.

Path Across Zimbabwe

2001 Eclipse: Zimbabwe

The two outer black lines are the path of totality and the middle line is the centre line. The maximum duration of totality is found along the centre line.

The jagged black line moving across the map is the border between Zimbabwe (lower left) and Mozambique (upper and right). The thin black lines are the roads in Zimbabwe. The eclipse site was on the centre line of the umbra directly north of the settlement of Mount Darwin.

Eclipse Details

Location Ruya River, Maname, Zimbabwe
Latitude 16° 30' 59.3" S
Longitude 31° 56' 51.8" E
Altitude 723 m
Distance from Centre Line 2.5 km
1st Contact (UT + 2) 13:51
2nd Contact 15:14:50
3rd Contact 15:18:10
4th Contact 16:29
Duration 3m 20s
Path Width 163 km
Major Axis 311 km
Minor Axis 145 km
Umbral Velocity 1.4 km/s
Solar Altitude 26°
Solar Azimuth 308°
Position Angle of 2nd Contact 93°
Position Angle of 3rd Contact 273°
Saros Details 127 (57 / 82)
Gamma -0.57014
Diameter Ratio 1.0436
Obscuration 1.0890

The Location, Latitude, Longitude and Altitude (in metres) are for the observation site. The latter three figures were measured on a GPS and obtained from a fellow observer.

The Distance from Centre Line was estimated using a map with the path of totality plotted from Fred Espenak data.

First Contact is the beginning of the eclipse when the first "bite" appears on the Sun's disk; it is the beginning of the partial phase. Second Contact is the beginning of totality. Third Contact is the end of totality. Fourth Contact is the end of the partial eclipse. The times are in local time which, for this eclipse, is UT + 2 (GMT plus two hours).

The Duration of the eclipse at the observation site was 3 minutes 20 seconds.

The Path Width is the width of the path of totality. The umbra itself is elliptical in shape. The Major Axis is the longest axis of the umbra; the Minor Axis is the shorter axis. The umbra at the observation site was 311km long and 145km wide. This could be observed as a brighter horizon along the Minor Axis. The path width was 163km, a reasonably large figure that produced a dark eclipse.

The Umbral Velocity is the speed of the Moon's shadow, 1.4 kilometres per second. This and its width determined the duration of the total eclipse.

The Sun's Altitude is measured from the horizon; the Azimuth is the direction of the Sun measured clockwise from North. The figures are for mid-eclipse. The Position Angles indicate the exact position of the Sun's disk where the Moon covers and uncovers the Sun at the beginning and end of totality.

The Saros is a collection of eclipses belonging to a series. Each member of the series is followed by a similar eclipse approximately 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours later. This eclipse is a member of Saros number 127. It is the 57th eclipse out of a total of 82 in the series. The 82 eclipses are made up of 40 partial and 42 total eclipses.

The previous eclipse of this series occured on 11 June 1983 and was my first total eclipse (in Indonesia). Saros 127 is unusually long lasting for 1460 years. It began on 10 October 991 with a small partial eclipse (3%) near the North Pole and will end on 21 March 2452 with another small partial eclipse (3%) in the southern polar regions.

Between 14 May 1352 and 15 August 2091, the 42 eclipses of Saros 127 are total. The duration of these 42 total eclipses increased from 2m 18s to 5m 40s on 30 August 1532, then decreased to to 4m 06s (30 January 1767) before increasing again to 5m 15s on 30 May 1965. The final total eclipse of the series will have a duration of 1m 38s.

Gamma determines how the Moon's shadow, if extended, would pass through the Earth. A Gamma of zero implies that the shadow would pass through the exact centre of the Earth. A Gamma of greater than 1 misses the Earth and no total eclipse would occur. A positive Gamma passes North of the Earth's centre; a negative Gamma passes South of the Earth's centre. The value of Gamma for this eclipse is -0.57014. This means that the shadow passes South of the Earth's centre, about half of the way to the edge of the Earth. This, combined with the fact that in June, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted away the Sun, produces an eclipse in the Southern Tropical Zone.

The Diameter Ratio determines how much bigger the Moon's apparent radius is than the Sun's. In this case, the Moon's radius is 1.0436 that of the Sun's. A total eclipse can only occur if this figure is greater than 1. The Moon would then appear larger than the Sun and could cover it completely. If this figure was less than one a total eclipse could not occur because the Moon would appear smaller than the Sun. The Obscuration determines how much larger the Moon's apparent area is than the Sun's.

KryssTal Related Pages

The 2001 eclipse main page.

Maps of the path of the 2001 eclipse from Fred Espenak and eclipse details at the observation site.

The times for selected places for the 2001 eclipse.

Photographs of the site and people at the 2001 eclipse.

Accounts of the 2001 eclipse sent to this web site are reproduced here.

During the excitement of totality not all photos come out as expected.

Travel photos from Zimbabwe.