The first solar eclipse of the decade, which is also a rare “hybrid” annular-total solar eclipse, has begun and will be visible in remote areas of Australia, Indonesia, and East Timor. The eclipse is expected to continue till 12.29 PM IST. It can be best viewed from Exmouth town in western Australia.
The hybrid eclipse has been named “Ningaloo” after the western coast of Australia where it will be best viewed from.
The “Ningaloo” eclipse is among the celestial events that occur approximately once every decade. The last such eclipse was in 2013, while the next is not expected until 2031.
“Ningaloo” is a hybrid eclipse because it will go from the annular eclipse phase to the total eclipse and then back to an annular eclipse.
An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, but when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth. The total phase of the eclipse is where the Moon completely covers the Sun.
During its annular phase, when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth since the Moon will be too far from the Sun to completely cover it, the eclipse will look like a “ring of fire”. Moon's dark disc will lay over the Sun's bright disc. At the time of the total phase of the eclipse, the night sky will be dark at places where the “Ningaloo” eclipse is visible. The areas witnessing the eclipse will see the sky looking like early mornings or late nights.
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This hybrid eclipse will not be visible in India, and the viewers here will have to watch this once-a-decade eclipse through the live stream
The “Ningaloo” eclipse will last a little over a minute in its path of totality, with the trajectory spanning from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, mostly over waters.
What is a hybrid solar eclipse?
During a hybrid solar eclipse, both the total and annular eclipse occurs at the same time.
During a hybrid solar eclipse, the Moon's size and distance from Earth are such that it appears slightly smaller than the Sun, creating an annular eclipse at some places along the eclipse path, and larger than the Sun, creating a total eclipse at others along the same path.
Therefore, those viewing within a narrow path on Earth's surface may experience a total solar eclipse where the Sun is fully covered by the Moon, while those outside the narrow path may witness a 'ring of wire' or the annulus eclipse where the Moon, smaller in size, lay over the Sun.
When is the next eclipse?
2023 is expecting to witness four eclipses; two lunar and two solar. The next eclipse, a lunar eclipse, is expected to occur on 5–6 May. It will be visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Antarctica.
The annual solar eclipse is likely on 14 October and will be visible in the West in Africa, North America, South America, the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Arctic.
On 28–29 October, a partial lunar eclipse is expected to be visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, Much of South America, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, and Antarctica.
Will the hybrid solar eclipse be visible in India?
No, the hybrid solar eclipse will not be visible in India. The Indian skywatchers will have to wait for lunar eclipse on May 5. The lunar eclipse will be visible at 10:52 pm in India.
How can you watch the hybrid solar eclipse?
According to the experts, wearing eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers should be used for optimal viewing of a solar eclipse, since regular sunglasses won't be effective in protecting your eyes.
Where to watch?
NASA will be hosting a live-stream at 8:00 am IST on Wednesday, as the experts will witness the total solar eclipse from Australia.
When will the solar eclipse reach its maximum point?
The maximum point is expected to be reached by 9:46 am. At this time, the viewers at the centre of the eclipse path will witness the darkening of the sky as the Moon will fully cover the Sun. But since it is an annular eclipse, a bright ring of sunlight will still be seen around the Moon.