Mumbaikars, gear up for a Christmas eclipse

Updated: 14 December, 2019 07:59 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

2019's last solar eclipse to be visible from city between 8.04 am and 10.55 am on December 26

The Moon will cover 84.2 per cent of the Sun during the eclipse. File pic
The Moon will cover 84.2 per cent of the Sun during the eclipse. File pic

City-Dwellers will have a front-seat view of the last solar eclipse of the year, scheduled to take place on the morning of December 26, during which, 84.2 per cent of the Sun will be covered by the Moon.

A solar eclipse takes place when the Moon comes between the Fn, casting its shadow on certain parts of the Earth. In these regions, the Sun is seen as being partially or completely hidden behind the Moon. Therefore, by definition, a solar eclipse takes place during the new moon (amavasya) and a lunar eclipse takes place during a full moon (purnima).

Speaking with mid-day, Arvind Paranjpye, Director, Nehru Planetarium said that Mumbaikars who were unable to witness the earlier solar eclipse in July since it was visible only from South America, would not be disappointed this time around. "We will see a partial solar eclipse from Mumbai on December 26 from 8.04 am to 10.55 am," he said. He explained that the only way an eclipse can occur is if the three heavenly objects are in a straight line.

"It so happens that the Moon's orbital plane, which is the plane in which the Moon orbits the Earth, is tilted to the orbital plane of the Earth, also called the plane of the ecliptic, by about 5 degrees. Hence, during most full moons and new moons, the three objects are not perfectly aligned. On the rare occasions when they are aligned, the eclipse takes place."

"The fascinating part about eclipses is that when such events happen, they help us reach out to the general public about the scientific reasoning behind such astral events," said Paranjpye. He said that in the run-up to a solar eclipse, the media tries to do a good job by warning people about the harmful effects of watching a solar eclipse with the naked eye, but these warnings mostly backfire and seem to have a negative repercussion.

"Yes, most people believe that watching a solar eclipse or simply being exposed to it will bring bad luck, among other things. This is a myth. I have seen six total eclipses, the first one being in February 1980, so if something bad had to happen, I would not have been the Director of a planetarium today," Paranjpye quipped. Adding an advisory, he said: "One must not look directly at the Sun during an eclipse. It is preferred that people who are watching the solar eclipse use the prescribed goggles."

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First Published: 14 December, 2019 07:15 IST

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