Annular solar eclipse | Cloudy skies play spoilsport for sky gazers in Delhi

Solar eclipse as seen under heavy cloud cover in New Delhi on Sunday, June 21, 2020.

Solar eclipse as seen under heavy cloud cover in New Delhi on Sunday, June 21, 2020.   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

With clouds shrouding the skies in the national capital on Sunday, sky gazers missed a clear view of the annular solar eclipse that would have showed them the Sun look like a ring of fire.

The annular phase began at 10.19 am and ended at 1.58 pm. The eclipse was at its peak at 12.01 pm.

The annular phase was visible from some places within a narrow corridor of northern part of the country (parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand). A few prominent places within this annularity path are Dehradun, Kurukshetra, Chamoli, Joshimath, Sirsa, Suratgarh.

It was a partial solar eclipse from the rest of the country.

Watch | What is an annular solar eclipse?

The annular path also passed through Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan, and China.

Obscuration of the Sun by the Moon at the time of greatest phase of partial eclipse was around 94 per cent in Delhi.

N. Rathnashree, Director of Nehru Planetarium, said the visibility of the eclipse was hampered due to the clouds.

The viewing was also affected due to social distancing norms in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rathnashree said although they had set up an equipment in the lawns of Nehru Planetarium, images were live-streamed and webcast on their Youtube page.

Also read: In pictures: The ‘ring of fire’ eclipse

The next annular eclipse will be seen from South America in December. Another annular eclipse will occur in 2022 but that will be hardly visible from India, Rathnashree added.

A solar eclipse occurs on a new moon day when the Moon comes in between the Earth and the Sun and all the three celestial bodies are aligned.

An annular solar eclipse will occur when the angular diameter of the Moon falls short of that of the Sun so that it cannot cover up the latter completely.

As a result, a ring of the Sun's disk remains visible around the Moon. This gives an image of a ring of fire.

Harpreet Kaur, a teacher with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), had arranged a telescope and created ball mirror image for viewing the solar eclipse. But the clouds had covered the sun.

"I could not see the eclipse properly due to clouds," Ms. Kaur, who is the coordinator of the science club at her school, said.

However, Ms. Kaur managed to take some photographs and videos, which she will share with her students on her school's WhatsApp group.

She said there was also a point when the sky appeared like it was evening, especially when the eclipse had reached its peak.

"I could see a lot of avian activity in the sky during that time," Kaur said.

However, there were a few who travelled to Kurukshetra in Haryana, where the eclipse was clearly visible.

Arvind Ranade, a scientist with the Department of Science and Technology, was among those who went to Kurukshetra, 150 kilometers from Delhi.

"We could see the eclipse clearly, especially the Baily's beads," Mr. Ranade said.

Named after English astronomer Francis Baily, Baily's beads are an arc of bright spots seen during total and annular eclipses of the Sun.

Just before the Moon's disk covers the Sun, the narrow crescent of sunlight may be broken in several places by irregularities (mountains and valleys) on the edge of the Moon's disk. The resulting array of spots roughly resembles a string of beads.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 5:38:07 PM |

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