The Great Total Solar Eclipse of 2009 - It’s coming up on July 22!
by J. R. Church
The moon will hide the face of the sun again this month (Wednesday, July 22, 2009) in the longest solar eclipse in this 21st century. "It will be a monster, with a totality lasting more than 6.6 minutes at maximum," say Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson, writers for Sky & Telescope magazine.
You may recall that when we interviewed Mark Biltz for our May 2008 issue of Prophecy in the News magazine, we noted that he had discovered three solar eclipses that would occur on each of three annual calendar dates that introduce the Jewish month of Av for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010. The first eclipse occurred on August 1, 2008. The second solar eclipse is coming up this month — on July 22, 2009, and the third will happen on July 11, 2010. Though these dates vary in our Gregorian calendar, they occur on the same calendar date in the Jewish calendar — Av 1. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon travels across the face of the sun, thus blocking out its sunlight.
A "total" solar eclipse means that the moon is large enough (closer to Earth) to completely cover the surface of the sun, whereas, an "annular" solar eclipse means that the moon is farther away from Earth and appears smaller than the sun’s disk. A "partial" solar eclipse means that the moon only crosses part the sun’s surface, but does not completely block out its light. These three solar eclipses are "total" eclipses — last year in the far north, this year across the middle of Earth’s surface, and next year in the far south.
The solar eclipse last year (August 1, 2008) was seen in parts of the Arctic, Siberia, and central Asia. The second of these three solar eclipses will be coming up this month on July 22, 2009. Sky & Telescope magazine (December 2008) had a story about this solar eclipse, saying that it would be the longest eclipse of the century and would not be seen in this configuration again until 2132.
Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson, writers for Sky & Telescope said, "A total eclipse of the sun will cross China next summer. Unlike the eclipse last August, the one on July 22, 2009, will darken major cities, densely populated countryside, and a vast expanse of tropical ocean."
"The third total solar eclipse will happen on July 11, 2010, almost entirely over the South Pacific. Easter Island and southern Chile (at sunset) offer the only landfalls. The South Pacific is again the site of the next one, on November 13, 2012."
November 13, 2012 ... hmmm ... that’s in the fourth year of this Sabbatical cycle, near December 12, 2012, the final day in the Mayan calendar. Could these be heavenly signs?
The total solar eclipse this month will have a magnitude of 1.080 that will be visible from a narrow corridor through northern India, eastern Nepal, northern Bangladesh, Bhutan, the northern tip of Myanmar, central China and the Pacific Ocean, including Ryukyu Islands, Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Totality will be visible in many cities such as Surat, Varanasi, Patna, Thimphu, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Shanghai. A partial eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon‘s penumbra, including most of South East Asia and north-eastern Oceania. The northern Iwo Jima island is the landmass with totality time closest to maximum.
On Friday, August 1, 2008, a total eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traversed half the Earth. The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow began in Canada and extended across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia, Mongolia, and China. A partial eclipse was seen within the much broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow, which included northeastern North America, most of Europe and Asia.
On Sunday, July 11, 2010, a third total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses Earth’s southern hemisphere. The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow will cross the South Pacific Ocean where it will make no landfall except for Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua). The path of totality will end just after reaching southern Chile and Argentina. The Moon’s penumbral shadow will produce a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering the South Pacific and southern South America.
What is remarkable about these solar eclipses is the unusual way they occur on the Jewish calendar. There are several Scriptures that predict signs in the Sun and Moon around the time of the Tribulation Period. Isaiah wrote:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, ... the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
"And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isa. 13:9-11).
John wrote: "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood" (Rev. 6:12).
It is possible that solar and lunar eclipses over the next few years hold heavenly messages for mankind. They may be the biblical signs predicted for the Sun and Moon.