During the time of a coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures, the Universe keeps entertaining us with its fascinating shows!
Eclipses can be solar and lunar. The first one occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, and it can be total, if the Moon completely covers the Sun, or annual, when the Moon covers all but an outer ring of the Sun.
The “ring of fire” occurs when the Moon is either too far from the Earth, or the Earth is too close to the Sun for the Moon to cover it entirely.
June and July are the eclipse season, which lasts for over a month. These seasons occur under six months apart from each other, and as the nodes move or “regress”, they happen earlier each year by 19 days.
This year, the midpoint of the two seasons are in June and December.
This month, the Moon will turn new less than nine hours after the June 20 solstice and will sweep in front of the Sun on June 21, creating a spectacular ring of fire solar eclipse.
Michael Zeiler, an eclipse chaser and cartographer who runs GreatAmericanEclipse.com. explains what makes this solar eclipse so special:
“This eclipse is nearly a total solar eclipse because the Moon is 99.5% the apparent diameter of the Sun.
What is exceptional about this annular solar eclipse is that its very short duration allows for dramatic views of extended Baily’s beads and a brief view of the Sun’s chromosphere.
The interplay of the Moon’s mountains and valleys against the narrow annulus ring of the Sun will be a spectacular sight through safe solar filters.”
Unfortunately, North Americans won’t be able to observe it, as it will happen during the nighttime hours on the night of June 20-21, 2020.
By the time the sun rises over the Americas on June 21, the eclipse will be long over. However, they will still get a chance to catch a young moon after sunset on June 21.
The annular solar eclipse on June 21, 2020, will take place on a narrow “path of annularity” across Africa and Asia.
The eclipse path will commence in central Africa at sunrise in the Republic of the Congo, west of the Ubangi River.
It will then travel northeast through parts of the Congo, and it will be visible as a higher-in-the-sky spectacle in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Red Sea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the Gulf of Oman, Pakistan, India, Tibet, China, and Taiwan.
Observers will be able to spot a ring around the sun for a maximum of about one minute.
If you are lucky enough to live in the regions that will witness the annual eclipse, make sure you wear proper eye protection, glasses designed for viewing eclipses, as looking directly at an eclipse could cause eye damage.
The video below provides important safety tips: