Today is like the Super bowl of the Solar system in North America! On August 21, starting 2:45PM Eastern Time, all of North America will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in 38 years. Beside everyone in North America, parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states. Unfortunately, it will be a regular Monday morning in India, and other neighboring Asian countries. While the sun and moon will cross paths in the Indian skies too, it is estimated to last between 9.15PM to 2.34AM IST. Since the eclipse will occur during the night hours in India, experts believe it wouldn’t have any significant astrological impact.
I am in the path of totality for the eclipse, how can I see it?
I’d ask you to go back to what you learnt in the Science lessons in class six. Staring at the Sun is bad for your eyes, especially during an eclipse. So, if you live in areas from where you can see a total or partial eclipse, better get in action immediately, and buy yourself a pair of solar filter sunglasses. These glasses block more than 99.99 percent of sunlight, as well as ultraviolet and infrared radiation. These glasses make the Sun appear as a muted orange or white disc in the sky. NASA and the American Astronomical Society have a list of manufacturers who make safe, standardized glasses for viewing the Sun.
Is there any time I can look at this thing with my naked eyes?
Yes! Once the Sun is completely covered, those in the path of totality can take off their solar filter glasses and view the corona directly. But remember, totality is not going to last very long, so make sure to snap all your pics quickly, and just let the view soak in.
Can the Solar eclipse damage my smartphone’s camera lens too?
There’s nothing to say for sure about this, same believe it could, but NASA says it’s possible the lens is too small to be damaged by the Sun. But If you’re really worried, you can put your solar filter glasses over the lens and take a picture of the eclipse that way. And during totality, you won’t need any filter.
Although, if you are really looking forward to snap a picture of the eclipse, smartphones may not be the best idea. They don’t zoom in very far, and the Sun will look pretty small and grainy. Going for a DSLR camera may be a better way.
I don’t live where the path of totality falls, how can I see the eclipse? Any live streams?
Oh yes, you can! NASA will be hosting an “Eclipse Megacast” today, which will go on for about four hours. It will broadcast on NASA TV, YouTube, Twitter Periscope, and Facebook Live. The live stream will kick off at 12PM EDT, which is 9.30PM IST.
Expect NASA to have some incredible shots of the eclipse. NASA says “viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.”
Ok I get all of that, but what is Solar Eclipse again?
Essentially Solar eclipse is a celestial event in which the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location. You may be thinking, “Hey, the Moon is way smaller than the Sun. How can it cover it up?” Yes, the Sun is roughly 400 times the size of the Moon, but the Moon is 400 times closer to Earth. So they appear about the same size in the sky. For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.
On the other hand, according to Hindu mythology, Solar and Lunar eclipse are associated with “Samudra Manthan”. There is an interesting tale behind it. Years ago, when the oceans churned, elixir was produced, which was stolen by the demons. To obtain the elixir, Lord Vishnu took incarnation of a beautiful damsel named Mohini, and tried to please and distract the demons. On receiving the elixir, Mohini came to the Gods to distribute it to them, when Rahu, one of the demons sat to obtain some portion of the elixir, the Sun and the Moon realized that Rahu was a demon and not one of the gods. Knowing this Mohini severed the head of Rahu, who still continued to live. And is believed to revenge the Moon and the Sun in the form of Solar and Lunar eclipse. Which is why according to Hindu Mythology, the radiations of Eclipse are a bad-omen as they are reflections of Rahu.