Annular solar eclipse to occur on May 20. Ring of fire solar eclipse will be visible in USA, Japan. In US it will be visible in Albuquerque, California and many other places
This Sunday, May 20th, the sun and the moon are going to put up a mega astronomical show – an annular solar eclipse. The moon will block out most of the sun and make it appear like a ring of fire. This will be the first annular solar eclipse in the USA in about 18 years.
Annular solar eclipse is like a total eclipse, when the moon is in a direct line with the sun and blocks it completely. In an annular eclipse, the moon is at the farthest point from earth – also called an apogee. As a result, the moon cannot cover the entire solar disk and you see the ‘ring of fire.’
Path of Annularity
The path of annularity is a narrow strip 300 kilometre wide and thousands of kilometres long. The ‘path’ will stretch from China, Japan, and across the Pacific Ocean to central North America. NASA predicts the annular eclipse to commence at sunrise local time in southern China and then pass over Hong Kong, Taipei, Taiwan, and Tokyo. The eclipse will be at its peak in the Pacific Ocean close to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The eclipse, at its peak, will block almost 94 percent of the Sun’s light.
Outside the path of annularity, most of the United States and Canada will witness a partial solar eclipse. The east Coast will not be able to see the event as the Sun will set before the eclipse begins. Elsewhere, the partial eclipse will stretch over most of eastern China, Siberia, and Mexico. NASA has made available a global map and time chart for the mega event.
Risks associated with Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse is a spectacular phenomenon of nature-but potentially dangerous to the eyes. Proper care must be taken to avoid any damage. Serious eye damage to the extent of blindness may occur if preventive measures are not taken.
Do not look directly at the eclipse with the naked eye or with any kind of telescope or binoculars without the proper filters. Sunglasses and photographic films are equally bad choices.
The ring of fire during an annular solar eclipse is extremely bright. Children are the most vulnerable because they are likely to get tempted to take a look at the eclipse. Parents should be extra careful during eclipses. They should inform their children about the risks of viewing a solar eclipse.
How to view a Solar Eclipse
Solar filters are, however, commercially available. Those are specially designed filters that carry the CE mark. Alternatively, a welder’s glass is a good choice, but take precaution not to take it off casually while looking at the eclipsed Sun. If you do so, even accidentally, consider it a bad choice.
There are many indirect methods to view a solar eclipse. The solar projection method is the simplest one – use a telescope or a one side of a binocular to project an image of the sun on a white board.
The safest way, it seems, to watch the spectacular astronomical event is the television!