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ECLIPSE 2024: Do other planets have solar eclipses?

todayApril 3, 2024 1

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Total Solar Eclipse here on Earth is just a few days away, but with all the excitement to see one on the third planet from the sun, it brings forward an interesting question. Can you see a solar eclipse from the other seven planets in the solar system?

The short answer is…yes. At least according to Astrophysicists, Dr. Adam Frank from the University of Rochester and Dr. Jason Nordhaus from RIT. But of course, it’s not exactly that simple either. 

“The answer is yes, as long as there is a moon,” said Dr. Frank

Which leaves an obvious question to get to the full answer to the first, which planets don’t have moons, and which do? 

“Right away off the bat. You know you can say that Mercury and Venus don’t. They can’t have solar eclipses they don’t have any moons,” said Dr. Nordhaus

For all the other planets in our solar system, even Pluto which technically isn’t a planet anymore, they do have at least one moon. Two stand out among the rest though, Jupiter has 96 moons, and Saturn has nearly 150. Every other planet, Earth, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune, all have just over 50 combined. 

Jupiter while not the most populated with moons is the largest planet in the solar system. In regards to solar eclipses, it was one that came up often with both Astrophysicists in conversation. 

“Jupiter, you’ve got the Galilean moons. There are four of them. They tend to be pretty big in the sky compared to the sun. The other nice thing about Jupiter is it’s a very large planet too. So you have a bigger surface area where you can, where you can have the eclipse happen,” said Dr. Nordhaus

Dr. Nordhaus went on to include that with the differing orbits and distances of the moons around Jupiter it would also be theoretically possible for a solar eclipse to be visible from the surface of one of the moons as another passed in front of the sun. From one of Jupiter’s moons or from the “surface”, which with Jupiter being a gas giant there technically isn’t one, the eclipses would not be like they are on Earth. 

“Those moons are so big that you would never get the kind of eclipse that we have. The moons are so big that they would completely blot out the sun so that you would never be able to see the corona. You’d never be able to see the outer parts of the sun’s atmosphere,” said Dr. Frank. 

Even on one of our closest neighbors, the eclipse would fail to be as good as it is here on Earth. 

“We got Mars, which has these two little potatoes that are orbiting it. Now, Mars’s moons are so small that they never cover the sun. There are eclipses that the moons pass in front of the sun, but they never cover it,” said Dr. Frank

While the point has been made a few times, Earth is far and away the best place to view the eclipse. Take my word as the author, and if that’s not enough Dr. Frank and Dr. Nordhaus give the third planet from the sun a glowing review too. 

“Earth is probably the best place to see a total eclipse in the solar system,” Dr. Nordhaus

“And one of the things that makes a total eclipse on Earth so amazing is that when the moon passes in front of the sun, it’s because it is, just about the right size, almost the same size. Then you can see prominence. You see the inner part of the atmosphere, which are these red flares, just a thin layer of those red flares. And then you see a much bigger glowing, shimmering corona,” said Dr. Frank

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Total Solar Eclipse here on Earth is just a few days away, but with all the excitement to see one on the third planet from the sun, it brings forward an interesting question. Can you see a solar eclipse from the other seven planets in the solar system?

The short answer is…yes. At least according to Astrophysicists, Dr. Adam Frank from the University of Rochester and Dr. Jason Nordhaus from RIT. But of course, it’s not exactly that simple either. 

“The answer is yes, as long as there is a moon,” said Dr. Frank

Which leaves an obvious question to get to the full answer to the first, which planets don’t have moons, and which do? 

“Right away off the bat. You know you can say that Mercury and Venus don’t. They can’t have solar eclipses they don’t have any moons,” said Dr. Nordhaus

For all the other planets in our solar system, even Pluto which technically isn’t a planet anymore, they do have at least one moon. Two stand out among the rest though, Jupiter has 96 moons, and Saturn has nearly 150. Every other planet, Earth, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune, all have just over 50 combined. 

Jupiter while not the most populated with moons is the largest planet in the solar system. In regards to solar eclipses, it was one that came up often with both Astrophysicists in conversation. 

“Jupiter, you’ve got the Galilean moons. There are four of them. They tend to be pretty big in the sky compared to the sun. The other nice thing about Jupiter is it’s a very large planet too. So you have a bigger surface area where you can, where you can have the eclipse happen,” said Dr. Nordhaus

Dr. Nordhaus went on to include that with the differing orbits and distances of the moons around Jupiter it would also be theoretically possible for a solar eclipse to be visible from the surface of one of the moons as another passed in front of the sun. From one of Jupiter’s moons or from the “surface”, which with Jupiter being a gas giant there technically isn’t one, the eclipses would not be like they are on Earth. 

“Those moons are so big that you would never get the kind of eclipse that we have. The moons are so big that they would completely blot out the sun so that you would never be able to see the corona. You’d never be able to see the outer parts of the sun’s atmosphere,” said Dr. Frank. 

Even on one of our closest neighbors, the eclipse would fail to be as good as it is here on Earth. 

“We got Mars, which has these two little potatoes that are orbiting it. Now, Mars’s moons are so small that they never cover the sun. There are eclipses that the moons pass in front of the sun, but they never cover it,” said Dr. Frank

While the point has been made a few times, Earth is far and away the best place to view the eclipse. Take my word as the author, and if that’s not enough Dr. Frank and Dr. Nordhaus give the third planet from the sun a glowing review too. 

“Earth is probably the best place to see a total eclipse in the solar system,” Dr. Nordhaus

“And one of the things that makes a total eclipse on Earth so amazing is that when the moon passes in front of the sun, it’s because it is, just about the right size, almost the same size. Then you can see prominence. You see the inner part of the atmosphere, which are these red flares, just a thin layer of those red flares. And then you see a much bigger glowing, shimmering corona,” said Dr. Frank Read More Eclipse LocalRochesterFirst  

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