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53 Interesting Facts about the Number 53: Saros Eclipse Cycle 53 + September Eclipses

September 13, 2015


Unless you were in South Africa or Antartica or you are particularly psychically sensitive or you follow the wanderings of Lord Ganesha on Earth whether or not you are Hindu, you may not have noticed that

today Sunday September 13 was a partial solar eclipse.

Today in fact there was a partial solar eclipse visible way down under (photo above from Texas in 2012; details below). Below are photos from today’s eclipse:

Also exciting for sky watchers: in two weeks there will be a lunar eclipse visible to much of North America! Yes on Sunday September 27 (which is synchronistically the final day of the Hindu celebration of Lord Ganesh’s birthday and typically his final day on Earth before returning to Mount Kailash) as the sun sets on the west coast in Southern California, the moon will rise already eclipsed by the sun.

Pretty cool, huh. But what does this have to do with the number 53?

Eclipses come in predictable cycles, called Saros Cycles which last about 6585 days or over a thousand years and contain around 150 solar and lunar eclipses. Learn more about how the Saros Cycles work here.

Each Saros Cycle has a number. Saros Cycle 53 contained 72 lunar eclipses and lasted 1280 years from June 3 -0993 to July 12, 0287. Saros Cycle 53 contained 84 solar eclipses and lasted 1496.5 years from Sept 6 -1277 to Feb 21 0220.

During Saros Cycle 53, Pliny observed two eclipses in fifteen days: “For the eclipse of both sun and moon within 15 days of each other has occured even in our time, in the year of the third consulship of the elder Emperor Vespasian and the second consulship of the younger.”

Out of all of the solar eclipses in this cycle, in terms of historical impact, on April 21 899 BCE, The Bamboo Annals reported China’s ‘Double-Dawn’ Eclipse which lasted three minutes and four seconds: “During the first year of the reign of King Yi, in the first month of spring, the sun rose twice at Zheng.”

This year on the Pacific Coast it will be the moon which will appear to rise twice!

The solar eclipses of Saros Cycle 53 roamed the earth in this pattern:

Picture at top from APOD:

A Partial Solar Eclipse over Texas
Image Credit & Copyright: Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College) & Linda WestlakeExplanation: It was a typical Texas sunset except that most of the Sun was missing. The location of the missing piece of the Sun was not a mystery — it was behind the Moon. Featured here is one of themore interesting images taken of a partial solar eclipse that occurred in 2012, capturing a temporarily crescent Sun setting in a reddened sky behind brush and a windmill. The image was taken about 20 miles west of Sundown, Texas, USA, just after the ring of fire effect was broken by the Moon moving away from the center of the Sun. Today a new partial solar eclipse of the Sun will be visible from Earth. Unfortunately for people who live in Texas, today’s eclipse can only be seen from southern Africa and Antarctica.

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