I've seen the claim that solar eclipses are more common in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere and would like to understand why and if that is the case? Does it relate more to the position of the moon relative to the earth or more to how the earth rotates the sun or is this just hogwash?


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    $\begingroup$ Could you provide a link for the claim? I can't see immediately any reason that should be so and I don't see any mention of it on Wikipedia. $\endgroup$ – Warrick Sep 17 '12 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Warrick, the claim is made here: science.slashdot.org/story/12/09/17/1152238/… (Sorry, I couldn't work out how to make this post appear below Warrick's.) $\endgroup$ – user12305 Sep 17 '12 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @abano you will need to get 50 reputation to be able to post comments. (Except that you can always comment on questions you ask and their answers.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 17 '12 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what you mean by "more common?" Do you mean "seen by more humans" or "occurs with greater frequency" or something else? $\endgroup$ – user11266 Sep 17 '12 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ I assume occurs with greater frequency, I didn't make the claim, but if it were seen by more humans then it would make perfect sense in the opposite direction of the claim since the land masses are weighted to the northern hemisphere. If that is what they meant, it would be rather misleading the way it was written and backwards. $\endgroup$ – WilliamKF Sep 17 '12 at 20:15

I see no reason for it, and no mention of it anywhere else.

Indeed, if you look at the list of solar eclipses in the 21$^\mathrm{st}$ century, you'll see also a column containing the coordinates on the Earth's surface where the eclipse peak will be.

I took that column and put it in a text editor. I then counted the number of occurrences for $^\circ N$ and $^\circ S$, and I found

$$ \matrix{ ^\circ N:& \mathrm{occurred\ 114\ times} \\ ^\circ S:& \mathrm{occurred\ 110\ times} } $$

So the statement on slashdot seems to be false (at least for the 21$^{\mathrm{st}}$ century).

You could repeat the process, taking only the total eclipses:

$$ \matrix{ ^\circ N:& \mathrm{occurred\ 33\ times} \\ ^\circ S:& \mathrm{occurred\ 35\ times} } $$

from which we conclude the same.

You can repeat the same for the 19$^{\mathrm{th}}$, 20$^{\mathrm{th}}$, 22$^{\mathrm{nd}}$ and 23$^{\mathrm{rd}}$ centuries, with the same outcome: they occur just as frequently on the Northern as on the Southern hemisphere.

I realize this is not really a proof of any kind, but frankly, the burden of proof is not on my side here :)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for using the burden of proof. I really believe in this device making the every day life easier. $\endgroup$ – Mikael Kuisma Nov 27 '15 at 22:24

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