Another celestial event is coming up this Thursday, Feb. 15. A partial solar eclipse will be visible in several parts of the globe.
After the rare Super Blue Blood Moon lunar event last month, sky watchers will have another celestial treat, as the moon covers the sun in a partial eclipse.
Unlike in a total solar eclipse, wherein the moon totally blocks our view of the sun and engulfing it in total darkness, the moon's penumbral shadow will only appear to take a bite from the sun during a partial eclipse.
On this specific event, the moon will cover the sun for almost two hours. The eclipse will be visible at 18:55 UT as the moon's shadow starts to cover the sun. The eclipse will reach its maximum point at 20:51 UT and will end by 22:47 UT.
Keen observers across South America, Pacific, and Antarctica will be able to view the eclipse when the sun is very low on the horizon and nearly setting in local time.
Always Watch With Caution
Compared to previous spectacular celestial events, this partial eclipse is just a minor one that many won't even notice because there would be no change in the daylight.
However, sky watchers and eclipse enthusiasts will still notice a change in the sun's appearance if they wear the proper gear.
Experts are advising the public to always protect the eyes when watching an eclipse event — whether total or partial eclipse. Do not look directly at the sun without a solar filter or solar eyeglasses.
Looking directly at the sun is dangerous and can cause damage or potential permanent blindness. Apart from the visible light, the more dangerous UVB and UVA rays are also emitted by the sun. These rays can burn sensitive parts of the eyes such as the outer cells of the corneas, retina, and macula.
Regular sunglasses should not also be used as an alternative to special eclipse glasses. Eclipse glasses made of black polymer can give protection to the eyes when looking at the sun during an eclipse. Do-it-yourself pinhole projectors can also be used to safely watch an eclipse.
Moon Covers The Sun Partially
Partial solar eclipses are more common, happening once every 18 months or more in some locations on Earth. It occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun but not directly aligned and only a portion of the sun's disk is covered.
"For most people, this is a really marginal event. If you didn't know it was happening, you wouldn't even notice it," says Ernie Wright, a programmer in the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Eclipses Of Past And Future
Major parts of North America were able to view the total solar eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21, 2017.
In that phenomenon, the moon has completely covered the sun and its corona or tenuous atmosphere. That astronomical event was so rare and spectacular it was regarded as the "Great American Eclipse of 2017." It was also the first time that a total solar eclipse was visible in many parts of the United States since 1776. Two hybrid solar eclipses will happen within a year in 2049 and 2050
An animation of the eclipse shows that it will begin over Antarctica and will move up and over parts of South America. The maximum eclipse will be most visible on the coast of Antarctica and east of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Local times of the actual eclipse can be accessed on timeanddate.com.