Solar eclipse on June 21, 2020: PIB issues guidelines, safety tips, and dos and don'ts that need to be followed while watching 'ring of fire eclipse'
Solar eclipse on June 21, 2020: PIB issues guidelines, safety tips, and dos and don'ts that need to be followed while watching 'ring of fire eclipse'
Photo credits: NASA

The first solar eclipse of 2020 will take place on June 21, during which the Moon will cover the Sun from the centre leaving a ring of light visible in the sky.

While people living along the path of annular eclipse passing through Anupgarh, Suratgarh, Sirsa, Jakhal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Dehradun, Tapowan and Joshimath will be able to see the annular phase, people in rest of India will witness a partial eclipse.

Bhuj will be the first town in India to see the beginning of the eclipse at 9:58 a.m. The eclipse ends 4 hours later at Dibrugarh, Assam at 2:29 p.m. Ghersana at the western boundary of India will be the first to witness the annular phase of the eclipse at 11:50 a.m. It will last for 30 seconds. Kalanka peak in Uttarakhand will be the last major landmark to see the annular eclipse at 12:10 p.m. lasting for 28 seconds.

As many of you will not definitely miss the opportunity to watch this rare celestial event, you must be aware of the guidelines to be followed while watching the eclipse.

Here's the list of few dos and don'ts issued by Press Information Bureau (PIB):

DOs

  • There are special goggles made for looking at the Sun. Use these goggles for safe viewing.

  • Look at the shadow of a bush or a tree. With the gaps between the leaves acting like a pinhole, numerous images of the eclipsed Sun can be seen on the ground.

  • Welders glass #13 or #14 that can be used to see the Sun directly with naked eyes.

DON'Ts

  • Do not look at the Sun directly. The Sun is a very bright object, and looking at it directly can cause severe damage to the eye and vision.

  • Do not use sunglasses, goggles, exposed x-ray sheet or lampblack over a glass.

  • Do not try to view the Sun's image on the surface of water.

Tips for viewing the eclipse:

  • Make a pinhole in a card sheet and hold it under the Sun. At some distance, keep a screen of white paper. Image of the Sun can be seen on this sheet. By adjusting the gap between the sheet and the screen, the image can be made larger.

  • You can use a strainer for making pinhole images. Cover the 'compact' makeup kit mirror with black paper, with a small hole at the centre. Reflect the image of the Sun on a distant wall in shadow. You can get a projected image of the eclipsed Sun.

The science behind the solar eclipse:

When the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, the shadow falls on the surface of the Earth. The Sun is entirely covered by the Moon for a brief period. Those places that are engulfed by the dark, dense umbral shadow of the Moon experience the total solar eclipse. The regions that are plunged into the soft diffused penumbral shadow of the Moon experience the partial eclipse.

In all solar eclipses the Sun, Moon, and Earth may not be perfectly aligned, and then we only have a partial eclipse. When the three celestial bodies happen to be in a straight line, we have a total solar eclipse.

What is Annular solar eclipse?

The Annular solar eclipse is a particular type of total solar eclipse, wherein the Moon is aligned with the sun. However, in this case, the apparent size of the Moon happens to be a bit smaller than the Sun.

"Hence the Moon covers the central part of the Sun, and the rim of the Sun appear like a 'ring of fire' in the sky for a very brief moment" explains Samir Dhurde of The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune.

Why is it called the "ring of fire" eclipse?

At the onset of the solar eclipse, the Sun gives a characteristic appearance of a bitten apple. A small part of the Sun is covered by the disc of the Moon. After that, slowly and steadily the disc of the Moon embraces a larger and larger part of the Sun. On a narrow track that the Moon's shadow traces on Earth during an annular solar eclipse, people can see the Moon traversing on the Sun and covering the central part. As the Moon is not able to block out the entire Sun, a bright ring of sunlight around the Moon will be visible. This is how this type of eclipse earned the nickname the "ring of fire" eclipse.

What dictates the type of eclipse?

The distance between the Earth and the Moon at the moment of the eclipse can dictate the type of eclipse that will take place. The distance between the Earth and the Moon is always changing due to the egg-shaped elliptical orbit of the Moon. This means that there are times where it is closer to the Earth and appears slightly bigger in the sky and times where it is farther away and appears somewhat smaller in the sky. Coincidentally, during the eclipse that takes place on June 21, 2020, the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun by 1%.

Fact check:

Contrary to some claims, the eclipse will not bring about an end to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

As Aniket Sule the Chairperson, Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India explains, "Solar eclipse is caused when the Moon comes in front of the Sun for a short time. As seen from Earth eclipses occur somewhere in the Earth 2 to 5 times a year. Eclipses do not impact microorganisms on Earth. Likewise there no danger in eating of stepping out during an eclipse. No mysterious rays come out of the Sun during an eclipse."

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

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