A partial solar eclipse occurred on Tuesday, the first in 2011, but a cloudy sky restricted its visibility from Delhi and certain other parts of northern and western India.

The eclipse began at 12.10 p.m. and ended at 4.31 p.m. while the maximum phase of eclipse was at 2.21 p.m., Director of Nehru Planetarium N. Rathnasree told PTI.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon lines up between the Sun and the Earth, casting a lunar shadow on the Earth’s surface and obscuring the solar disk. During a partial solar eclipse, only part of the sun is blotted out.

“A small portion of the Sun was blocked by the Moon. Cloudy sky, however, made the viewing restricted,” Rathnasree said.

In Delhi, the eclipse started at about 3.12 p.m., with the peak being at 3.32 p.m. hours and ended at 3.52 p.m.

The maximum portion of the Sun covered during the eclipse was only three per cent, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) General Secretary Sachin Bhambha said.

In India, the eastern fringe of the penumbral shadow of the Moon passed over the Kutch and other parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, retired Prof. R. C. Kapoor of Indian Institute of Astro Physics said.

The next best opportunity to see a solar eclipse covering major parts of the country will be on December 26, 2019. In 2011, a total of six solar eclipses will occur — four solar and two lunar. N. Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society of India said a combination of four solar and two lunar eclipses in a single year will occur only six times during the 21st century — 2011, 2029, 2047, 2065, 2076 and 2094.

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