Sunday, Feb. 26, will bear witness to a rare solar eclipse, and people in the United States will be able to see it, if they so wish.
The solar eclipse will be the annular eclipse, during which the moon will get in between the Earth and sun, and a part of the sun's surface will be visible around the moon, resembling a ring. As a result, the event has been named the "Ring of Fire."
How Will It Appear?
Since the moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical manner, the distance of the moon from our planet is usually around 31,000 miles.
However, on Feb. 26, the moon will be 235,009 miles away from the Earth.
Due to an effect known as the "negative shadow," or antumbra, the moon will block out most of the sun while only allowing the sides to be visible.
Due to the considerable diameter of the moon under the negative shadow or antumbra, it would be impossible for it to cover the sun totally.
It can be understood better by considering the sun as a nickel and the moon as a penny. Even if the penny lies on top of the nickel, the sides of the nickel will always be visible.
This is the reason why the Ring of Light will be clearly visible around the moon.
Where Will The Eclipse Be Visible?
The Eclipse or the Ring of Fire will be seen across the South Pacific Ocean, South America, Africa and the South Atlantic Ocean.
Nations like Argentina, Chile, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia will also get a glimpse of the event.
However, it is South America, along the southern shore of the Gulf of Corcovado which is going to witness the initial landfall of the antumbra of the moon.
The west of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean will be experiencing the "greatest duration" of the eclipse, which will be at 8:16 a.m. ET. This will last for 1 minute and 22 seconds.
For those who are unable to view it in their countries, they can instead watch the live webcast by Slooh Community Observatory on Space.com.
Note To Spectators
This eclipse will be a rare event, and many would wait eagerly to capture it on their special instruments and telescopes.
However, all those who are planning to witness this eclipse must ensure that they see it through a pin hole camera or with the help of solar viewing glasses. Watching it with the naked eyes or with simple binoculars may cause negative impact on the eyes and damage to the optic nerves in the brain.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr