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How to Catch the Rare ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse This Sunday

The longest day of 2020 shall be marked across much of Asia by an annular solar eclipse.
19 June 2020, 8:42am
solar eclipse
Photo courtesy of Jongsun Lee / Unsplash

The summer solstice—the longest day and shortest night of the year—is almost here. And with it, a rare celestial phenomenon is going to occur, as parts of Asia and Africa will see a solar eclipse on June 21. The first solar eclipse of this bizarre year and decade will see the sun turn into a “ring of fire” this Sunday.

Despite ridiculous claims of the eclipse being related to the coronavirus, solar eclipses are very much a regular and scientific phenomenon. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the Earth and the sun to cast a shadow over the planet. This is an annular solar eclipse, the word originating from the Latin word “annulus” meaning ring. It occurs when the moon is near its farthest point from Earth. It almost covers the sun, leaving only a thin outer rim of the sun uncovered, giving the appearance of a “ring of fire”.

In many time zones, it’ll occur on the same day as the summer solstice, making the event extremely rare. The only other time an annular eclipse will coincide with the June solstice in this century is in 2039. This rare solstice solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Africa and Asia, such as Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, southern Pakistan, northern India, and China. A partial eclipse would be visible from Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Greece, along with Papua New Guinea in the southern hemisphere.

In Northern India, the point of the “greatest eclipse”, the ring, will last for 38 seconds. It will start on June 21 at 9:15 a.m. IST, reach its peak at 12:10 p.m. and conclude at 3:04 p.m. Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand will see the annular eclipse peak. Other parts of the country, particularly the southern half, would be seeing a partial solar eclipse. To watch the eclipse remotely from other parts of the world and know the timings based on where you are, you can check out timeanddate.com.

If you are planning to witness this rare phenomenon from your terrace, you need to keep in mind a few things. Never look at a solar eclipse with the naked eye as you may damage your pupils, and can even go completely blind. Trump might’ve done it but like most things he does, it’s quite ridiculous. You will require proper eye protection, which could be in the form of eclipse glasses or a sun filter. Sunglasses aren’t enough to do the trick.

If you’re planning to photograph it with a digital camera, you must ensure you use an eclipse filter for your camera. Otherwise, you risk damaging the lens and the camera body. But if you are planning to use your phone, don't worry about damaging it as most phones' apertures are way too small for the sun rays to enter your phone.

While you can still photograph the eclipse from your roof, the lockdown and movement restrictions have limited activity on the eclipse. Kurukshetra, for example, which is a small town in Haryana in northern India, used to host a famed solar eclipse fair that saw pilgrims from all over the country. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, the fair has now been cancelled. The District Magistrate of the city told Hindustan Times that steps are being taken to ensure that no one takes a dip at Kurukshetra’s holy tanks during the solar eclipse. International eclipse chasers had planned trips to Ethiopia, Oman, India and Tibet as well—all of which have been cancelled.

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