When, where and how do we see a solar eclipse?
A total eclipse is a rare phenomenon where the Earth, moon and the Sun are all in alignment, and this is often referred to as a syzygy. This alignment of celestial bodies causes the moon to obscure the direct view of the Sun from the Earth.
So here are several warnings, facts and tips to bear in mind and help you view the next solar eclipses in the years to come:
Wear the correct type of eye protection
Failure to properly observe the passage of the moon in front of the Sun could result in a dangerous risk to your eyesight. Always wear the correct solar eclipse eyewear or you might just end up like one woman in New York who has a crescent-shaped burn in her left eye from staring at the Sun for a total of only six seconds before she was handed eye protection… She has now been diagnosed with a rare retina injury in the eye called solar retinopathy. So always make sure you have the correct eyewear on at all times during the eclipse!
The first type of eclipse is a total eclipse where a syzygy occurs and the heavenly bodies of the Earth, moon and Sun all align. People experiencing this type of eclipse will observe the sky getting darker and the umbra shadow-type of the moon that is being cast over them. The second type of eclipse is known as a partial eclipse, where the Earth, moon and Sun do not exactly line up, so the Sun only appears to have a dark spot on part of its surface and this creates a penumbra shadow-type. The third type of eclipse is the annular eclipse where the moon is really far away from the Earth and looks much smaller than the Sun in the sky. In the Annular eclipse it seems as though there is a bright ring around the moon.
Date and places to be for the upcoming total solar eclipses
There are 38 up and coming solar eclipses for you to see over the next 60 years or so, and these are the next ten dates, times and places for the up and coming eclipses:
02 February 2019 19:24:07 in the South Pacific, Chile or Argentina
14 December 2020 19:24:07 in the South Pacific, Chile, Argentina or South Atlantic
04 December 2021 07:34:38 in Antarctica
08 April 2024 18:18:29 in Mexico, Central US and East Canada
12 August 2026 17:47:05 in the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland or Spain
02 August 2027 10:07:49 in Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Somalia
22 July 2028 02:56:39 in Australia or New Zealand
25 November 2030 06:51:37 in Botswana, South Africa or Australia
30 March 2033 18:02:35 in East Russia or Alaska
20 March 2034 10:18:45 in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, or China
Another way to watch this celestial event is by making a pinhole camera. This involves the use of 2 pieces of card. On one of the cards make a 4mm hole in the centre and position it at least 1 metre apart from the other card, then tilt the pinhole in the general direction of the Sun. Never look over your shoulder at the Sun when setting up the pinhole camera though. You should then be able to view the eclipse safely with your back to the Sun the entire time.
How your ancestors saw the eclipse
Throughout history our ancestors would have mainly seen eclipses as a disruption of the natural order. Many cultures believed that an eclipse was an animal or demonic figure attempting to swallow the Sun or moon whole right in front of them. For instance, Vietnamese myths describe the eclipse as a frog or toad swallowing the Sun, whereas the Korean mythos says that firedogs try to steal away the Sun away during an eclipse. Similarly Vikings believed Sky wolves were chasing the Sun and moon, and Hindus thought the demon Rahu was trying to steal the Sun whilst disguised as a God. Interestingly, though some African folktales view the eclipse as a reconciliation between both the Sun and the moon which spend their time angry and apart but reunite during the day of the eclipse. So it just goes to show you eclipses have a rich and vibrant history attached to them and many people have postured the significance of such an awe striking event.
So when do you plan on viewing an eclipse, or have you seen one already? Comment your answers below and please share this article if you enjoyed it.