EXPLAINER: What makes April 8 solar eclipse event unique : The Tribune India

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EXPLAINER: What makes April 8 solar eclipse event unique

ISRO’s Aditya-L1 spacecraft will observe the Sun during the rare opportunity; NASA will deploy sounding rockets

EXPLAINER: What makes April 8 solar eclipse event unique

Photo for representation: iStock



Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, April 5

Come April 8 and the world will witness its first solar eclipse of this year. Given that it will be the first total solar eclipse since December 4, 2021, makes the celestial event even more unique.

According to scientists, the eclipse will present a rare opportunity for scientists to observe the Sun from both space and on the Earth and get a comprehensive analysis.

While astronomers are encouraging people to be a part of and witness the rare event, they are also advising caution. Sunglasses alone will not protect eyes from the powerful rays of the Sun as directly staring during an eclipse can lead to severe consequences, including blindness/ disrupted vision.

Apparently, NASA has also warned against pointing smartphone cameras at the Sun during the eclipse.

Solar eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth.

In Hindu religion, solar eclipses have a special meaning and stories related to ‘Rahu’ and ‘Ketu’—the ‘chaya grahs’ in astrology.

A total eclipse is when the Earth’s satellite — the Moon — completely blocks the Sun’s disk, thereby adding another unique feature to the event.

Unlike total solar eclipses, in which the moon entirely conceals the sun, annular eclipses occur when the moon is at its farthest point from Earth, leaving a fiery ring of sunlight encircling the Moon’s shadow.

This particular eclipse will be mostly witnessed over North America, according to scientists. Also, this time around the Moon will be closer to the Earth than it was during the 2017 total solar eclipse in the region, making the event even more unique.

Observing the phenomenon

Reports quoting NASA say the space agency will deploy aircraft to follow its route to collect data on the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA will also stream the eclipse on its website and TV from several locations.

As the Sun’s main light gets masked and the dimmer solar corona becomes visible, scientists will get a unique opportunity to study this mysterious region of the Sun.

“NASA WB-57 jet aircraft will fly along the route of the eclipse carrying spectrometers and other instruments to make observations of the Sun’s corona and the Earth’s atmosphere, as per reports.

“The brief blocking of sunlight also allows scientists to study this mysterious region of the Sun,” NASA was quoted as saying.

India, Aditya L1 and solar eclipse

Broadly the total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada It, however, will not be visible in India.

As per reports, India’s maiden solar probe — Aditya L1 — will track the Sun as it gets blocked by the Moon, creating a brief period of darkness in the daytime.

The Sun, the Moon and the Earth aligning in a straight line will create a period of totality lasting around four minutes, say scientists.

According to reports, the maximum possible duration of an eclipse of the Sun is 7 minutes and 31seconds.

Eclipse and other planets

As per NASA website, moons around other planets also create eclipses although their different sizes relative to the Sun do not create our familiar eclipses.

Planets with multiple moons can have more than one eclipse occur at the same time.

Beyond the Earth-Moon system, eclipses do not occur on Mercury and Venus since they lack natural satellites to block out the Sun.

“Mars has two small satellites, Phobos and Deimos, both too small to fully eclipse the Sun, even though it appears only half as big as on Earth,” says the website.

About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

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