An incredible solar eclipse is coming this weekend for some parts of the earth, and it will look like an incredible ring of fire in the sky.
The earth’s atmosphere creates a slight distortion on the ring, but it comes through in a definite circle, and moves perfectly along the sky in synchronization.
This weekend, the complete ‘ring of fire’ will be visible from central Africa and through Asia, starting at 0345 UTC on 21 June 2020. Many other locations, from southeastern Europe to the northern tips of Australia, will experience a partial eclipse.
At the peak of the eclipse, the Moon will block 99.4 percent of the Sun as the two objects move through the skies of northern India.
After this weekend, the next ring of fire will occur in 2021, but will mostly be visible from the Arctic. However, a total solar eclipse will also cross South America later this year.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between earth and the sun, which totally or partly blocks out the sun for a viewer on earth. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the sun’s, blocking most of the sun’s light and causing the sun to look like an annulus, or ring.
With a solar eclipse, it is very important to use eye protection because staring at the sun, especially under eclipse conditions, could lead to serious eye damage. Average sunglasses will not work either, special eclipse glasses are needed to view this rare event.
The solar eclipse will be visible on June 21st and peak at UTC 12:10 am on June 21st. The total length of the eclipse is 3 hours, 18 minutes.
An incredible example of what we may be able to see was captured in a photo taken by photographer Colin Legg and astronomy student Geoff Sims in Western Australia in May 2013.
We just recently had a lunar eclipse earlier this month, which is a bit different.
During a total lunar eclipse, Earth completely blocks direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth’s atmosphere. This light appears reddish for the same reason that a sunset or sunrise does: the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light.
Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of Earth. A total lunar eclipse can last up to nearly 2 hours, while a total solar eclipse lasts only up to a few minutes at any given place, due to the smaller size of the Moon’s shadow. Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full Moon.
This year we’ll have a total of six eclipses, four lunar and two solar. The lunar eclipses will all be partial and the solar eclipses will be an annular eclipse on June 21st and a total eclipse on December 14th.