During such an event, a bright ring of sunlight shines around the moon.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
A solar eclipse is a natural event that takes place on the earth when the moon moves in its orbit between the earth and sun (this is also known as an occultation). It happens at new moon, when the sun and moon are in conjunction with each other. If the moon was only slightly closer to earth, and orbited in the same plane and its orbit was circular, we would see eclipses each month. The lunar orbit is elliptical and tilted with respect to Earth’s orbit, so we can only see up to five eclipses per year.
Annular solar eclipse
Not every solar eclipse is a total one. When the moon is farther away in its orbit than usual, it appears too small to completely cover the sun’s disk. During such an event, a bright ring of sunlight shines around the moon. This type of eclipse is a called an “annular” eclipse. It comes from the Latin word “annulus” which means “ring”. The period of annularity during such an eclipse can last anywhere from 5 or 6 minutes to up to 12 minutes. However, even though the sun is mostly covered by the moon, enough bright sunlight escapes during annularity that observers cannot ever look at the sun directly. These events require eye protection throughout the entire eclipse.
Fast facts about the annular solar eclipse
Annular solar eclipse, which last occurred in the UAE in 1847 (172 years ago), will stretch from Saudi Arabia in the north down to Indonesia in the southeast and back up across Malaysia and the Philippines this year.
>Next annular solar eclipse will happen in the UAE after 83 years.
>Annular eclipses can be seen for around three minutes in locations where the annularity is visible. From start to finish, the total duration of annular eclipses can be over six hours but not in a single location.
>No planets or stars will be visible during the annular solar eclipse because the moon will not completely cover the sun
WARNING: Protect your eyes! Never look at the sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without proper eye protection like eclipse glasses. The sun’s rays can burn the retinas in the eyes leading to permanent damage or even blindness. A safe way to watch a solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or to project an image of the eclipsed sun using a pinhole projector.
Stages of an annular solar eclipse
There are five distinct stages of an annular solar eclipse:
>1st contact – Partial eclipse begins: The moon’s silhouette starts becoming visible in front of the sun’s disk. The sun looks as if a bite has been taken from it.
>2nd contact – Full eclipse, or annularity, starts: The ring of fire appears. For a few seconds just as the annularity begins, Baily’s beads, which look like beads of light, can sometimes be seen at the edge of the moon’s silhouette.
>Maximum eclipse: The moon covers the centre of the sun’s disk.
>3rd contact – Annularity ends: The moon starts moving away from the disk of the sun. Once again, Baily’s beads may be visible along the moon’s leading edge.
>4th contact – Partial eclipse ends: The moon stops overlapping the sun’s disk. The eclipse ends at this stage.
>Don’t ever look at the sun without proper eye protection.
>Don’t view the sun through sunglasses of any type (single or multiple pairs), or filters made from photographic film, or any combination of photographic filters, crossed polarisers or gelatin filters, CDs, CD-ROMs, or smoked glass. None of these are safe.
>Don’t fit any filter to a telescope without first checking it thoroughly for damage. If it is scuffed, scratched, has pinholes in it, or you have any other doubts about it at all, don’t use it.
How can your eyes be affected by a solar eclipse?
Exposing your eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause “eclipse blindness” or retinal burns, also known as solar retinopathy. This exposure to the light can cause damage or even destroy cells in the retina (the back of the eye) that transmit what you see to the brain. 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 realise the damage that has occurred.
Timings of the annular solar eclipse (Liwa, Abu Dhabi)
>Annular solar eclipse visible (91.93% coverage of sun)
>Duration: 2 hours, 21 minutes, 32 seconds
>Duration of angularity: 2 minutes, 47 seconds
>Partial begins: Sun below horizon
>Sunrise: December 26 at 7.01.39am
>Full begins: 7.35.21am
>Full ends: 7.38.08am
>Partial ends: 8.52.34am
>Partial eclipse (rest of the UAE)
>Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes
>Sunrise – 7.02am
>Maximum eclipse (moon is closest to the centre of the sun) – 7.38am
>Partial eclipse ends (the moon leave’s the sun’s edge) – 8.54am
Where to observe
>Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG) is organising an event to witness this super rare event in two locations. UAE residents can catch the partial eclipse at Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre, Mushrif Park in Dubai, from 6am-9am.
>The annular solar eclipse event will be held at Qasr Al Sarab Resort in Abu Dhabi, from 6am-9am
>The UAE Space Agency is organising an event in collaboration with the International >Astronomical Centre at Liwa Hills Hotel, near Madinat Zayed in Al Dhafra.
>Another event will be held in collaboration with Emirates Mobile Observatory at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi.