Take out the cameras, but protect your eyes ! From Africa to China, from India, a small part of humanity will have the privilege to attend sneak Sunday, at the summer solstice, a solar eclipse is exceptional of type ” ring of fire “.
The astronomical phenomenon, that occurs only once or twice a year, will begin shortly after the rising of the Sun in the centre of Africa, and crosses successively the north of the democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Yemen, northern India, China, south Taiwan, and will end in the Pacific ocean, to the south of the island of Guam.
The Moon will pass in front of the Sun, in alignment with the Earth sufficiently perfect to hide it. But not entirely, as during a total solar eclipse : the Moon is not close enough to the Earth, it will be an annular eclipse, that is to say, at its maximum, there will be a ring around the Sun, called the ” ring of fire “.
This ring will last a maximum of 1 minute and 22 seconds. Before and after, will be able to observe a partial eclipse, with a lag, but without the formation of circle of fire, because the center of the Sun and the Moon will not be in the same position.
But the important thing is to “look at the weather a day or two ahead and choose the place where the sky will be the more clear,” advises Nasa. “The weather is the key to a successful monitoring. It is better to see an eclipse short in a clear sky as a solar eclipse-longest in the clouds “, argues the us space agency on its website.
“Only 2 % of the Earth’s surface are affected by the total phase of the eclipse, and it is this that makes the exceptional phenomenon “, explained to AFP Florent Delefie, astronomer of the Observatory of Paris – PSL.
It is less spectacular than a total solar eclipse, where the position of the Moon in the sky corresponds exactly to the position of the Sun and causes the night, as was the case above of France in 1999.
But an annular eclipse is all the same, “beautiful to observe, it causes a drop in brightness that has nothing to do with a sunrise or a sunset : it gives a cold light, as if replacing a light bulb to 500 watts for a light bulb of 30 watts,” details the French astronomer.
There are according to him of beautiful photos to make, and it is also interesting to observe how the animals react because they realize that a phenomenon is odd, the birds may go back to bed, the cows return to the barn…. “.
But be careful : in spite of the decrease of the brightness, it is important not to look at the sun with the naked eye, even with sunglasses, which will not filter out the UV, warns the specialist. “This is as dangerous as watching it on a normal day : the Sun is so bright that even if there is still a small portion lit, there is a danger for the eyes “, he argued.
The most curious will therefore need to bring special glasses eclipse, masks, welders are certified, or use the means of observation by amateur astronomers.
In the past, eclipses were a scientific issue. They have enabled, for example, to study the solar corona, or even to test the theory of relativity, as was the case in the 1920s. Today, their interest is primarily aesthetic.
The next annular eclipse is expected on December 14.