What is Total Eclipse of The Sun? Understanding Solar Eclipse Phenomena

Total Eclipse of The Sun

One of the many Earth coincidences is that at present, there are two prominent astronomical objects, the moon and the sun having almost the same size as observed in the sky. Nevertheless, the sun is known to be about 400 times bigger in terms of diameter than the moon. It is also about 400 times away from the moon, making the two astronomical objects have similar angular sizes, which is about 1/2° when viewed on the sky. When you view the moon from the Earth, it is seen as if it covers the sun, and that allows it to give the most exciting events as Lumen Learning reported.

If the moon gets between the sun and the Earth, it will cast a shadow over the Earth, which leads to the solar eclipse. However, a solar eclipse will only take place during the new moon phase – the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, where its shadow falls on the Earth’s surface.

A total eclipse, an annual solar eclipse, or a partial solar eclipse, on the other hand, will depend on various factors, according to Earthsky.

For an eclipse to occur, it is usually because of time and celestial mechanics. The moon is reported to have been formed more than 4.5 billion years ago. It moves away from Earth gradually about 4cm per year. Today, the moon is at a perfect distance for it to appear in the sky and at exact size as the sun, which helps to block the sun as Lumen learning reported.

Understanding the Causes of Solar Eclipse

You should understand that solar eclipses occur because of cosmic coincidence. The moon and the sun appear to be of the same sizes in our sky. Despite the sun being more than 400 times larger than the moon, it is also reported that the sun is also 400 times far from the moon. That makes them appear to be of the same size when viewed on the sky as Lumen learning reported.

The Great American Eclipse also reported that the Earth occupies a celestial sweet spot where we can witness the total solar eclipses. Even if other intelligent beings are living in other solar systems, they have low odds for them to enjoy such circumstances as we do on Earth. The Earth is, therefore, the beneficiary of this beautiful cosmic coincidence.

Over the eons, it is reported that the moon is gradually reduced from the Earth. That results because of the friction experienced with tides. It is the reason why the distance from the Earth to the moon continues to increase. According to the Great American Eclipse, it is expected that in the future epoch, the distance will have increased, and the moon’s disk will be much smaller such that no experiencing total solar eclipses on the Earth.

What Are The Total Solar Eclipses? 

According to the Space report, total solar eclipses are an unusual accident of nature. As the sun is larger in diameter than the moon, but 400 times far from it, these orbital planes will intersect. When the distance aligns favorably, you can see the moon completely blotting out the disk on the sun. This is referred to as a total solar eclipse and takes place every 18 months on Earth.

The Earth experiences two different shadows. If all the sunlight will be blocked, the shadow is referred to as Umbra. This takes the same shape as a dark slender cone. It will be surrounded by a lighter and funnel-shaped shadow known as penumbra from where the sunlight will be partially obscured.

When the total solar eclipse takes place, the moon will cast umbra on the Earth’s surface. The shadow can sweep around the planet in a few hours. If you’re fortunate to be positioned directly in the umbra path, you can view the sun’s disk diminishing, forming a crescent as the dark shadows from the moon will rush towards them.

There will be a brief period of totality where the sun will completely be covered, forming a beautiful corona. Totality is expected to run about 7 minutes and 31 seconds, although most total eclipses are much shorter as Space reported.

When Is Next Total Eclipse Expected?

The next solar eclipse is expected to take place on December 14, 2020, as NASA Eclipse Website reported. It is the second and last eclipse to take place in 2020.

This eclipse will be visible to people in South America like Argentina and Chile. It is expected in the afternoon where the skywatchers will witness the eclipse for 2 minutes and 19 seconds, where the day will be full of darkness. The moon is expected to block the sun as other pages of the Space reported.

There are other few countries in southwest Africa expected to view the eclipse. These countries include South Africa, Angola, Namibia, and Botswana.

The path for this eclipse will be similar to the one experienced on July 2, 2019. The path of totality that skywatchers will see the moon blocking the sun will be 90 kilometers strip of land. It will start at the Pacific ocean, west coast of Chile, Argentina, to end in the south Atlantic ocean, according to the Express report.

The Bottom Line

It is advisable not to look at the sun directly during the total eclipse because it leads to blindness. It might also cause permanent eye damage if you won’t be wearing proper eye protection. 

If you want to safely observed the total eclipse of the sun, you should be wearing eclipse glasses or special protective eyewear. Wearing basic sunglasses, including those having UV protection, will not protect your eyes sufficiently. If you want to document the eclipse using any photo equipment, you can use some special solar filters to ensure that the remaining sunlight ring doesn’t affect any of your vision.

However, the safest way you can observe the eclipse is to use a pinhole camera. You will be watching it indirectly, and you can make it easily at home. To document the event, you should take a wide-angle snap capture, and you can do it using a smartphone camera.

Do you know people who have permanent blindness resulting from a total eclipse of the sun? 

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