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Solar Eclipse Explained Practically: The Beauty & Science of Eclipses

June 11, 2021    7 min read

An eclipse is indeed a spectacular sight where the Moon casts a dark shadow that plummets you into incredible dusk and the bizarre and extraordinarily beautiful halo is reflected. But these eclipses are much more than just a breath-taking view.

Several hundred years ago, when people looked at the Moon closely during an eclipse, they observed the shadow of Earth overlapping the Moon and found out that the Earth is spherical. Scientists across the world use eclipses as an opportunity to study more about the Sun, Moon, and Earth.

Throughout history, there are also a number of spiritual theories surrounding eclipses. Koreans, Chinese, Hindus, Vikings, and other cultures viewed it as a period when the sun is being devoured by a celestial dragon. However, these notions were busted by scientists as they were mere superstitions with no relevant text claiming the latter.

Eclipse season is seizing the world with a total of 4 eclipses occurring this year. Two weeks after the lunar eclipse on May 26th, the Moon, Earth, and Sun again aligned on June 10th.

What is an eclipse?

Credit: NASA

An eclipse occurs when one celestial body such as a Moon or planet falls into the shadow of another celestial body.

Two popular types of eclipses can be observed from Earth:

  • Solar Eclipse
  • Lunar Eclipse

Leading scientists and astronomers explain that the upcoming eclipse will be a partial and annular solar eclipse, illustrating a stunning panorama known as the ‘Ring of Fire’.

Understanding A Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Earth and Sun. When this happens, the Moon stops the sunlight from reaching the Earth and its shadow falls on Earth's surface. A solar eclipse only occurs during the new moon phase. There are three types of solar eclipse:

  • Total solar eclipse
  • Partial solar eclipse
  • An annular solar eclipse.

Types of Solar Eclipse

  • Total solar eclipse: A total solar eclipse can only be seen from a small region on Earth. It happens when a new Moon moves in between the Sun and Earth and totally covers the sun.
  • Partial solar eclipse: A partial social eclipse takes place when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are not precisely aligned. The Sun seems to have a dark shadow on a small part of its surface.
  • Annular solar eclipse: An annular eclipse occurs when the Moon is at a greater distance from Earth and it covers the center of the Earth. The edge of the sun remains evident as a bright ring of fire or annulus around the moon looking like a dark disk on top of the Sun.

The First Solar Eclipse of 2021

In India, only a partial solar eclipse was visible from Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. People living in the northern hemisphere stood in the path of the eclipse and got the chance to witness the legendary ring of fire which lasted for about 100 minutes.

Millions of people from all across the world gaped at the jaw-dropping view, which came out as a luminous 'Death Star' in the night sky. Astrophotographers and eclipse enthusiasts captured mesmerizing pictures of the stellar manifestation.

Here are some startling and absolutely gorgeous images of the solar eclipse 2021:

Credit: NASA

Safety check: Remember, never look directly at the Sun during an eclipse. It can permanently cause harm to your eyes! You can use protective eyewear like a pair of binoculars or welder's glass to momentarily glance at the eclipse.

Credit: PTI

The First Solar Eclipse of 2021

If you're someone who enjoys reading about astronomical events and the solar system, we have some insightful content for you at Practically. The learning app offers an immersive experience enriched with simulations, AR experiences, 3D videos, and much more. Experience and learn more about the solar system through life-like videos and live lessons and test your abilities with Practically. Come join us and Learn Practically!

That's it for today in our series, The Cosmic Saga. We will soon be back with another round of uncovering more about the celestial world. Till then, stay tuned!

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