As the sun, moon and Earth line up perfectly, the remarkable phenomenon of an eclipse occurs. On these occasions, the moon’s shadow crosses its path on the surface of Earth, snuffing out the light from our nearest star. This shadow casts in two parts; a cone-shaped umbra that is the dark centre region and a penumbra which lies beyond, illuminated in a lighter shade.
A wonder of the natural world, a total eclipse of the sun can only beseen from an incredibly specific location, for the timeless occurrence is so uncommon. Everywhere else on earth is gifted with the sight of a partial eclipse, wherein the moon paints but a portion of the sun in its own mysterious shadow.
Viewers of the eclipse must take meticulous steps to secure their eyes because gazing directly at the sun can be result in permanent impairment. It is only permissible to look at the blazing star when it is completely eclipsed by the moon.
To observe a full eclipse, the ideal spot is within the path of totality, an area of the globe where there is total occultation of the sun due to the moon’s position.
On July 2nd, 2019, the sun will be eclipsed in its entirety with a spectacular display visible from some regions in South America.
Witnessing a total eclipse of the sun is an awe-inspiring sight. All around, the sky takes on a mysterious darkness and the temperature suddenly drops. With birds ominously ceasing to chirp, stars emerge and the sun’s haloed aura, or outer atmosphere, is brought into view.
Throughout time, eclipses have stirring up an array of emotions in human beings, from a sense of awe and intrigue to fear and superstition. For centuries, many cultures have perceived these natural phenomena as symbols of ruin and devastation.
The unveiling power of eclipses has enabled scientists to observe the otherwise unobservable solar corona. Its brilliance usually blinds the eye, however, the darkening sky during eclipses creates a window of opportunity to further understand our home star with fluid precision.
During an eclipse, scientists can observe the moon’s shadow drifting across our planet’s surface and use it to decipher the precise orbit of our orbiting companion. In this way, eclipses act as a source of valuable knowledge about the moon.
For thousands of years, eclipses have sparked awe and delight in those who have been privileged to witness them. A sublime feat of nature, they are a sure reminder of the power of the forces that govern our universe.