New Delhi: Today’s annular solar eclipse, which is the last one for the decade, began around 8 am this morning, much to the excitement of sky gazers.

The December 26 solar eclipse will be visible most prominently from South India while other parts of India, will witness a partial solar eclipse. Several parts of India, including Odisha, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi are witnessing the rare celestial event.

However, instead of the more majestic total eclipses, it will be an annular solar eclipse that will appear as a ‘ring of fire’ in the sky. The partial phase of the eclipse began at 8 am, and will end at 1.36 pm, while the annular phase which began at 9 am will end at 12.29 pm.

Here’s how the eclipse appeared in some cities:

Besides India, the eclipse will be visible in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.

The next solar eclipse will take place in June next year.

What is an annular solar eclipse?

An annular solar eclipse occurs when a New Moon is farthest from the Earth and forms a ring-like structure of light surrounding the Moon. This is unlike the total solar eclipse in which the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and shows the darkest part of its shadow on the Earth.

The total eclipse is often almost as dark as night, while you’ll notice some amount of light in the case of the annular solar eclipse. The eclipsed Sun should not be viewed with the naked eye, even for a very short time. It may cause permanent damage to the eyes leading to blindness even when the moon covers most portion of the Sun.

Timing:

The Solar eclipse is going to last for five and a half hours from 7:59 am till 1:35 pm. It is after 58 years that solar eclipse will take place for such a long duration. In India, it will last till 10:57 am.

How to watch?

Skywatchers should use safe viewing equipment and proper techniques to view the celestial event as the infrared and ultraviolet rays of the Sun can cause severe retinal damage, astronomers have warned.

One should not look at the Sun directly for even a little period without proper protection. Even when 99 per cent of the surface of the Sun is covered by the moon during a partial eclipse, the remaining light is still intense enough to damage the eye.

Proper solar filters with certified appropriate optical density against radiation which are safe to the eyes should be used in front optical devices and the naked eye. According to scientists, the best method to view the solar eclipse is through a pinhole camera or a telescopic projection on a suitable surface.

Where to watch?

There are several YouTube channels where you can watch the various phases of the solar eclipse live. Some of them are – Canary Islands-based Slooh Observatory, Sri Lanka’s Tharulowa Digital, CosmoSapiens among others.

 

(With Agency inputs)