A rare annular solar eclipse


(Online Desk)

A rare annular solar eclipse will take place on Thursday morning after a gap of nine years. The eclipse can be viewed from several parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai.

S Soundararajaperumal, Executive Director, Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre, told Express elaborate arrangement have been made for the public to witness the eclipse at Birla Planetarium.

However, he cautioned that it would be unsafe to look at the Sun directly. “Even during a partial or annular eclipse, one should not attempt to view the Sun without any eye protection. Permanent eye injury or loss of eyesight may happen. We made arrangement at Periyar Science and Technology Centre to witness the eclipse safely,” he said.

In Chennai, the only partial phase of the eclipse will be visible. However, at maximum eclipse, 84.7 per cent disk of the Sun will be covered by the Moon. The eclipse will begin at 8.09 am and end at 11.19 am. Maximum eclipse will be at 9.35 am.

The annular phase will be visible in Uthagamandalam, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Karur, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Trichy and Pudukkottai. “This is a rare event. Earlier, on January 15, 2010, India witnessed an annular eclipse. After Thursday, on June 21, 2020, an annular eclipse will occur and will be visible in India, which will be visible in Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand. In Tamil Nadu, the next annular eclipse will occur only on May 21, 2031,”  Soundararajaperumal said.

How annular eclipse occurs?

The moon moves in an elliptical orbit around the Earth. Due to this, the Moon sometimes comes closer to the Earth and some times goes farther to the Earth. The Moon’s distance from Earth
(centre-to-centre) varies with mean values of 363,396 km at perigee (closest) to 405,504 km at apogee (most distant). When it is farther away, its apparent size as seen from the Earth slightly diminishes.

During this time if an eclipse of the Sun takes place, the Moon will not be able to completely block the entire Sun. An annulus of the outer regions of the Sun will still be visible during the maximum eclipse. So this kind of eclipse is known as an annular eclipse.

The path of the eclipse will begin in Saudi Arabia and move east through southern India. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout most of Asia. The annular phase of the eclipse will be visible in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, southern India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Malaysia, Maldives, Indonesia, Singapore, other parts of Southeast Asia and some parts of Australia.