A Chinese man wears a protective mask to prevent COVID-19 and protective glasses as he watches the ... [+] sun during the annular solar eclipse outside the Forbidden City on June 20, 2020 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Early on Sunday morning as much as 99.4% of the Sun was covered by the Moon for less than a minute as seen from parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Although few international eclipse-chasers could travel to witness the event, and many living near the 27 miles-wide path of the Moons shadow were also thwarted by COVID-19 travel restrictions, amateur astronomers were out in force for this rare annular solar eclipse.
The path of today's eclipse began in Africa and crossed into the Arabian Peninsula.
This special kind of partial solar eclipse was visible for just under six hours between 03:45 UTC and 09:34 UTC, from the Republic of Congo in Central Africa to Guam in the Pacific Ocean. From everywhere along the track solar eclipse glasses had to be worn.
Ethiopia was where some of the first images came from; heres an image from the iconicLalibelain Ethiopia, which is famous for its rock-hewn monolithicchurches:
Heres a great video from Ethiopia (scan to 23 minutes for the ring of fire):
Next was Yemen. Not much was seen online during the eclipse, but soon after this beautiful photo appeared on Twitter:
Next up was Oman. Heres a video (scan to 1 hour 43 minutes for the ring of fire):
While a massive swathe of the eastern hemisphere saw a partial solar eclipse, that delicate ring around the Moon was visible for between 38 and 82 seconds only from a narrow path through the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India, Tibet, China and Taiwan.
Heres that perfect circle moment from Quriyat, Oman:
Minutes later, it was Pakistans turn. In Sukkur, Pakistan, research astronomer Talha Moon Zia took this spectacular image (below) thatin my opinionis the definitive image of the entire eclipse; a ring of fire that shows the Suns pinkish chromosphere an even a few pink prominencesexplosions on the surface of the Sun (look on the lower-left where the ring is at its thinnest):
Heres what was going minutes later in Ahmedabad, India, which experienced a maximum 77% partial solar eclipse:
Meanwhile, a ring of fire was visible in northern Rajasthan, India, back along that narrow full eclipse path:
Can you see those broken rings on the images above? Those are Bailys beads. These beads of light are the Suns light coming through the mountains of the Moon. They were only visible for a few seconds before and after the ring of fire.
The path of today's annular solar eclipse.
From Dehradun, India the spectacle of Bailys beads was again briefly visible:
To the south, New Delhi, India saw a 93% partial solar eclipse:
The moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen from New Delhi on June ... [+] 21, 2020. (Photo by Jewel Samad / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
The word annular comes from annulus, a Latin word for little ring. An annular solar eclipse is caused when a New Moon is further away from Earth on its slightly elliptical orbit, so not big enough in our sky to cover the whole of the Sun.
After leaving India across the Himalayas, the ring of fire then crossed Tibet and China, with the last views of the ringfor about a minutein Xiamen, China and southern Taiwan.
Heres a photo from Tibet:
The annular solar eclipse is seen on June 21, 2020 in Ali Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region of ... [+] China. (Photo by Jia Jiqian/VCG via Getty Images)
Macau then saw an 84% partial solar eclipse. Heres a great amateur video of it, which demonstrates just how useful cloud can sometimes be for eclipse-viewing:
Dont confuse an annular solar eclipse with a total solar eclipse, which occurs when a New Moon covers 100% or more of the Sun.The next total solar eclipse will happen next on December 14, 2020 as seen from a narrow path of totality through Chile and Argentina.
People gather to watch the partial solar eclipse along a promenade on June 21, 2020 in Hong Kong, ... [+] China. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
The next annular solar eclipse will occur on June 10, 2021 and be visible from Canada, Greenland and Russia. It will be the first of three solar eclipses of some kind in North America inside just four years.
Solar eclipses are predicted using an ephemeris that accurately plots where the Sun and Moon are, with respect to Earth, where the Moons shadow is in space, and when its going to strike Earths surface. Spherical trigonometry has been used to plot how the Moon-shadow moves across the surface in 3D.
Science aside, you owe yourself a trip to see a solar eclipsebut make sure its a total solar eclipse you travel to. Annular solar eclipses make great photosas demonstrated herebut theyre not a patch on the experience of totality.
Disclaimer: I am editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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