For some people, the sky will be in total darkness as a total solar eclipse is expected to occur on March 8 and 9. Though sunlight will be blocked as the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, the sky event will only be visible in its totality from some parts of Southeast Asia.
A total solar eclipse is a rare incident that happens annually since the moon and the sun does not orbit at the same place. During this event, the moon will cast the darkest part of its shadow, called the umbra, on Earth. As a result, wherever this part of the shadow lands on will be as dark as night.
The solar eclipse will last for one and a half minute to about more than four minutes in every location on its path.
"You notice something off about the sunlight as you reach totality," said Sarah Jaeggli, a NASA space scientist. "Your surroundings take on a twilight cast, even though it's daytime and the sky is still blue," she added.
What Is A Total Solar Eclipse?
During total eclipse, the moon would cover the entire disk of the sun. This is likely because of the precise position and size of both the sun and moon. The sun is about 400 times wider the moon and at the same time, its distance is about 400 times farther. This means that people on Earth see them as the same size in the sky.
The moon, during a total eclipse, can cover the light from the sun while blocking a tiny portion of the inner corona.
In 1860, a total solar eclipse shed light on the rare occurrence and gave scientists the first recorded glimpse of a coronal mass ejection. This is a massive burst of gas and magnetic field coming from the solar corona and release into the solar wind. This event is only visible during eclipses through the use of a coronagraph.
When And Where To Watch?
The total solar eclipse is expected to occur over the Pacific Ocean. Experts said that the eclipse will be partially seen by people in Australia, Southeast Asia and East Asia by 11:19 p.m. UTC (6:19 p.m. EST). The maximum point will happen at about 1:59 a.m. UTC (8:59 a.m. EST) on March 9.
Residents in Sumatra, Sulawesi and other parts of the Pacific Ocean will witness the eclipse in its total splendor. It will begin over Indonesia and will go Northeast for more than three hours over the area of Borneo and out over the North Pacific Ocean.
For those who want to witness this sky event, never look at the sun directly - eclipsed or not - without proper protective eye gear. The radiation from the sun's rays may harm the eyes or even cause permanent damage.
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr