Solar eclipse of July 20, 1963

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Solar eclipse of July 20, 1963
Type of eclipse
Maximum eclipse
Duration100 sec (1 m 40 s)
Coordinates61°42′N 119°36′W / 61.7°N 119.6°W / 61.7; -119.6
Max. width of band101 km (63 mi)
Times (UTC)
Greatest eclipse20:36:13
Saros145 (19 of 77)
Catalog # (SE5000)9427

A total solar eclipse occurred on Saturday, July 20, 1963. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is the same size as the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide. Totality was visible from Hokkaido in Japan and Kuril Islands in Soviet Union (now belonging to Russia) on July 21, and Alaska, and Maine in the United States and also Canada on July 20. Astronomer Charles H. Smiley observed the eclipse from a U.S. Air Force F-104D Starfighter supersonic aircraft that was "racing the moon's shadow" at 1,300 mph (2,100 km/h) extending the duration of totality to 4 minutes 3 seconds.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The eclipse was featured in the comic strip Peanuts (July 15–20, 1963), with Linus demonstrating a safe way of observing the eclipse as opposed to looking directly at the eclipse. On the day the eclipse passed over his area, Linus was left helplessly standing in the rain with cloud cover entirely too thick to witness the eclipse.

It also served an important function[clarification needed] in the plots of two Stephen King novels, Gerald's Game (1992) and Dolores Claiborne (1992) and was featured in a season 3 episode of Mad Men titled "Seven Twenty Three" (2009).[2]

Related eclipses[edit]

Solar eclipses of 1961-1964[edit]

This eclipse is a member of a semester series. An eclipse in a semester series of solar eclipses repeats approximately every 177 days and 4 hours (a semester) at alternating nodes of the Moon's orbit.[3]

Saros 145[edit]

This solar eclipse is a part of Saros cycle 145, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours, containing 77 events. The series started with a partial solar eclipse on January 4, 1639, and reached a first annular eclipse on June 6, 1891. It was a hybrid event on June 17, 1909, and total eclipses from June 29, 1927, through September 9, 2648. The series ends at member 77 as a partial eclipse on April 17, 3009. The longest eclipse will occur on June 25, 2522, with a maximum duration of totality of 7 minutes, 12 seconds. All eclipses in this series occurs at the Moon’s ascending node.[4]

Inex series[edit]

This eclipse is a part of the long period inex cycle, repeating at alternating nodes, every 358 synodic months (≈ 10,571.95 days, or 29 years minus 20 days). Their appearance and longitude are irregular due to a lack of synchronization with the anomalistic month (period of perigee). However, groupings of 3 inex cycles (≈ 87 years minus 2 months) comes close (≈ 1,151.02 anomalistic months), so eclipses are similar in these groupings. In the 19th century:

• Solar Saros 140: Total Solar Eclipse of 1818 Oct 29

• Solar Saros 141: Annular Solar Eclipse of 1847 Oct 09

• Solar Saros 142: Total Solar Eclipse of 1876 Sep 17

In the 22nd century:

Solar Saros 150: Partial Solar Eclipse of 2108 Apr 11

Solar Saros 151: Annular Solar Eclipse of 2137 Mar 21

Solar Saros 152: Total Solar Eclipse of 2166 Mar 02

Solar Saros 153: Annular Solar Eclipse of 2195 Feb 10

Metonic series[edit]

The metonic series repeats eclipses every 19 years (6939.69 days), lasting about 5 cycles. Eclipses occur in nearly the same calendar date. In addition, the octon subseries repeats 1/5 of that or every 3.8 years (1387.94 days).


  1. ^ Smiley, Charles H. (February 1964). "Racing the Moon's Shadow on July 20, 1963". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 58 (1): 10–12. Bibcode:1964JRASC..58...10S. The United States Air Force provided an F-104D, a Starfighter made by Lockheed, and Major William A. Cato piloted the plane from Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico to Uplands Airport, Ottawa. Since the duration of totality depends on the difference between the speed of the plane and the speed of the moon's shadow, we elected to fly north-west to meet the shadow, then turn and increase speed so that we would reach our maximum speed at 42,000 feet as the shadow overtook us and continue to climb, attaining 48,000 feet as the shadow left us.
  2. ^ Episode 7: Seven Twenty Three (Details tab)
  3. ^ van Gent, R.H. "Solar- and Lunar-Eclipse Predictions from Antiquity to the Present". A Catalogue of Eclipse Cycles. Utrecht University. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  4. ^ Espenak, Fred (September 26, 2009). "Statistics for Solar Eclipses of Saros 145". NASA. Archived from the original on September 30, 2009.