We have a Total Solar Eclipse coming up soon on April 8th 2024!
But do you know what a solar eclipse is? Read to find out more about solar eclipses!
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between Earth and the Sun. When this happens, the Moon gradually blocks out the light from the Sun. If the Sun and Moon line up perfectly in the sky, we call it a total solar eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting the Moon's shadow on Earth.
Types of solar eclipses:
Total Solar Eclipse
Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon's orbit closest to Earth.
To understand the difference between a Total and Annular eclipse of the Sun, it must be understood that the Moon has an elliptical orbit around Earth. In fact, the Moon's distance from Earth varies from a minimum of 221,000 to a maximum of 252,000 miles. Therefore, the Moon's apparent size in our sky will vary by 13%.
When the Moon's orbit is toward its MINIMUM DISTANCE from Earth, the Moon will appear visually as a LARGE DISK THAN SUN. If an eclipse occurs during this time, it will be a TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE because the MOON has TOTALLY obscured the SUN's disk, producing the beautiful solar corona ejecting outward from the Sun.
One important element to remember though is that the Moon's shadow will obviously become narrower as it is cast from the Moon to Earth (in a shape of a cone with the wide end being at the Moon and the narrow end on Earth). Therefore, the path of totality on Earth is narrow. It is also very short-lived as the Moon is moving quickly away from its perfect location of being situated between the Sun and Earth.
An Annular solar eclipse is different in that it occurs when the MOON is CLOSER to its MAXIMUM DISTANCE from EARTH in its orbit. If an eclipse happens during this situation, the MOON will appear visually SMALLER than the SUN and its shadow cast will not be long enough to reach Earth. What reaches Earth is the ANTUMBRAL or "NEGATIVE" shadow. If you are within the ANTUMBRAL shadow, you will see a solar eclipse where a thin ring or annulus of bright sunlight surrounds the Moon. Therefore, Annual solar eclipses are still spectacular in that they are almost total, but the solar corona is not seen due to the brightness of the annulus.
Like a Total eclipse, the Annular solar eclipse will have a narrow path on Earth with short duration, most often less than 10 minutes.
Partial/Hybrid Solar Eclipse
Partial/Hybrid solar eclipses occur when the MOON only PARTIALLY obscures the SUN's disk and casts only its PENUMBRA on Earth. A Hybrid eclipse is especially rare in that an Annular eclipse can change to a Total eclipse, or vice versa, along the eclipse path. Due to Earth's curvature, Earth may move through the ANTUMBRAL SHADOW (Annular eclipse) and UMBRAL SHADOW (Total eclipse) along different points of the eclipse path.
On Monday, April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The total solar eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean. Weather permitting, the first location in continental North America that will experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT.
Here's a picture of the solar eclipse path on April 8th, 2024:
The eclipse will enter Canada in SOUTHERN ONTARIO, and continue through QUEBEC, NEW BRUNSWICK, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, and CAPE BRETON (NS). The eclipse will exit continental North America on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m NDT. After the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous United States will be on Aug. 23, 2044!
(Source : https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/where-when/ and National Weather service- Weather.gov)
*This composite image of eleven pictures shows the progression of a total solar eclipse over Madras, Oregon, on Aug. 21, 2017.*
DATES OF UPCOMING TOTAL AND ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSES AND LOCATIONS FOR BEST VIEWING:
*Eclipse predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov*
How rare is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse can only happen during a New Moon! The Moon's orbit is titled 5 degrees to Earth's orbit around the Sun. Therefore, a solar eclipse is a relatively rare phenomena and a Total or Annular eclipse is even more rare, with the Hybrid eclipse the rarest of all. A total solar eclipse is an event, recurring somewhere on Earth every 18 months on average, yet is estimated to recur at any given location only every 360–410 years on average.
Some important FAQs!
How can I safely view a solar eclipse?
The only safe way to look directly at the sun during an eclipse is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.
Can I look at a solar eclipse with sunglasses?
Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the Sun. Safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and ought to comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
Can I look at a solar eclipse with my phone?
Still, while capturing an image may be fun, both the ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY and NASA recommend actually viewing the eclipse with your own eyes (protected by solar filter glasses) rather than just through your phone screen.
Can you look at a solar eclipse with a mirror?
Never look through the pinhole at the Sun, but only at the projected image. A small mirror, such as a make-up mirror, can be used to reflect the image of the eclipse onto a white wall. Do not use a magnifying mirror. Do not look into the mirror at the eclipse as this is just as dangerous as looking directly at the Sun.
What kind of sunglasses I can use for solar eclipse?
The AAS says that shade level 12 or higher is safe for viewing the eclipse. They also meet all ISO 12312- 2:2015 standards for direct solar observation. They block 99 percent of UV light, 97 percent of IR radiation and only allow a transmission of roughly 0.0003 percent of visible light through them.
How Can You Tell If Your Eclipse Glasses or Handheld Solar Viewers Are Safe? Click below to read more:
Caution: Please don't look at eclipses without proper protection!
Looking at the intense light from the sun even for just a few seconds can cause permanent damage to the retina (part of the eye directly responsible for vision). Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause retinal burns (solar retinopathy). Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns. This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage has occurred.
For more information on Eclipse safety and eye safety total solar eclipse, you can click on https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/safety/
On April 8 th 2024 an event we call “SUN…..MOON & ME”…..ARE YOU READY??
Hope you enjoyed reading!!
PS: Nutty Scientists Canada’s new blog on Lunar Eclipses will be uploading soon. Thanks for reading Nutty Scientists Canadas' blogs.