Solar Eclipse

  • 'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse to Appear in the Sky

    A solar eclipse will be visible in the sky at 6:53 a.m. ET on Thursday, as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.

    During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks the sun entirely. But Thursday's spectacle is an annular solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon is too far from Earth — and therefore too small in the sky — to fully cover the sun. That leaves room for a brilliant halo of light, often referred to as a "ring of fire" or annulus, surrounding the moon.

    The phenomenon won't be visible everywhere: Parts of Canada, Greenland, and Russia will have the best views. People in the northeastern US, northern Europe, and northern Asia will be able to see a partial solar eclipse, which will look as if someone has taken a bite out of the sun.

    This will be the only annular solar eclipse this year, though it's the first of two solar eclipses in 2021. The year's second solar eclipse — a total eclipse — will take place on December 4.

    Annular solar eclipses are rare spectacles

    The glowing "ring of fire" in an annular eclipse is only visible for a short time: anywhere from a fraction of a second to over 12 minutes. Last year's annular solar eclipse lasted just under 90 seconds.

    Depending on your vantage point, you may still be able to see a band of light form along the moon's edge, then disappear over the span of roughly three hours.

    Total solar eclipses usually happen every five to six months, but annular solar eclipses only occur every year or two. That's because they require a precise set of conditions: To start, the sun, moon, and Earth must all be aligned. The moon must also be close to its apogee, or farthest point from Earth — around 252,700 miles away.

    In any solar eclipse, the moon's shadow carves a path across the Earth. During a total solar eclipse, the darkest part of the moon's shadow, called the umbra, hits the Earth. But during an annular solar eclipse — when the moon is farther from Earth — our planet instead passes through a part of the moon's shadow called the antumbra, which isn't quite as dark.

    You'll need special glasses to stare directly at the eclipse

    It's dangerous to stare directly at any solar eclipse for the same reasons it's dangerous to look at the sun: The bright light can damage cells in your retina.

    This may ultimately distort your vision, resulting in blind spots or trouble making out shapes. Your eyes can also become watery and sore. Sometimes, these side effects won't show up for a few hours or even a few days.

    So if you want to view Thursday's solar eclipse in person, NASA recommends wearing a pair of "eclipse glasses" with special solar filters. (The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable manufacturers.) You can also purchase a pair of welder's goggles in shade 12 or higher.

    Sunglasses aren't a proper substitute — they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight, according to NASA.

    The eclipse will also be livestreamed on Thursday for those looking to watch from home.

    After this, the next annular solar eclipse won't happen until October 14, 2023. In the meantime, the world can look forward to December's total solar eclipse, plus two partial solar eclipses in 2022.

  • The Last Solar Eclipse of 2020

    ECLIPSE enthusiasts can enjoy the serendipitous solar phenomenon from some parts of the world. Here is how to see 2020's only eclipse of the Sun.

    This Monday, December 14, will see the Moon eclipse our solar system’s star for a whole two minutes and nine seconds from areas of Argentina and Chile. But because few eclipse watchers have made it to the “path of totality” due to coronavirus travel restrictions, many may miss the second total solar eclipse in 18 months.

    Should the sky stay clear in these countries, eclipse observers may feel the temperature suddenly descend.

    They may also glimpse the Sun’s hotter outer atmosphere known as the corona.

    This incredible event occurs when the Earth’s Moon is positioned across from the daytime sky.

    This totally covers the Sun's disk as viewed from our planet, briefly blocking out the entire body of the sun except its outermost layer – the corona.

    A solar eclipse produces what looks like a 360-degree sunset.

    Both plants and animals should immediately respond as if it was dusk.

    How to see the 2020 solar eclipse:

    The Monday, December 14 total eclipse of the Sun starts in the Pacific Ocean.

    The solar eclipse will make landfall in Chile and first appear as a partial solar eclipse at 11.38am 2.28 GMT).

    Totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, will begin in Saavedra at 1pm local time (4pm GMT) and will last for 2 minutes, 4 seconds.

    Eclipse viewers living closer to the centre of the path of totality, should experience up to 2 minutes, 10 seconds of totality.

    The Moon eclipse our solar system’s star for a whole two minutes and nine seconds from areas of Argentina and Chile (Image: Getty)

    The approximate 56 mile-wide (90km) patch of totality will then travel east across Argentina and Chile.

    The last place to see the total eclipse before it moves off the continent and over the Atlantic Ocean will be Argentina's Salina del Eje.

    Totality will there end at 1.25pm local time (4.25pm GMT).

    However, those living in many areas of South America should – weather permitting – enjoy a partial solar eclipse.

    This will involve the Moon appearing to take a bite out of the Sun's disk.

    Ice-encrusted continent Antarctica will also be exposed to up to a 40 percent partial solar eclipse.

    Above this area of totality, a partial eclipse can be seen as far north as Ecuador.

    And an additional treat may also arrive in the form of a comet and bright green meteors during the period of brief totality.

    Michael Zeiler of the South African Astronomical Observatory said: “This will be my first miss of total solar eclipse in over a decade and this disappointment is heightened by the realisation newly discovered comet Erasmus should be visible during the total eclipse.

    “What a photogenic opportunity. The last prominent comet during a total solar eclipse occurred in 1948.”

    However, the chances of observers seeing a comet close to the Sun are most likely remote.“

    However, ProfessorJay Pasachoff, of Williams College, Massachusetts suspects the chances of viewing a comet close to the solar eclipse are unlikely.

    He’s said: “It could be brighter than it is now and have a tail, but 11 degrees from the corona the sky may not be as dark as it is near the Sun, which is particularly important for seeing a tail.

    “It may be worth a wide-angle photo, som

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