With the new year comes a phenomenon that doesn't happen too often and it will create something spectacular to enjoy.
Merry Christmas! It's the final Christmas of the decade and it truly is special. However, there is something even more special about the holiday this year and it is that on the day after it, the moon and the sun will come together in the sky for a marvelous sight, the "ring of fire". And it is the final annular solar eclipse of the year, and of the decade.
An annular solar eclipse is unlike a total solar eclipse and the distinction lies in how the moon covers the sun during this phenomenon. In a total solar exlipse, the moon completely covers the sun, leaving just the sun's light to be visible around it. However, in an annular solar eclipse, the "Moon covers the Sun's center, leaving the Sun's visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon," states Time and Date. And on the day after Christmas, the moon will cover just 97% of the sun.
This eclipse follows two prior events that occurred on January 6 and July 2 earlier this year, with partial and total solar eclipses respectively.
The annular solar eclipse will take place on December 26, 2019, with it starting at 2:29 AM UTC and continuing till around 8:05 AM. The point of maximum eclipse has been calculated to occur at 5:17 AM with the phenomenon lasting 3 minutes and 40 seconds. While the eclipse will engulf those living in in Saudi Arabia, Oman, southern India, and parts of Indonesia, people in of North/East Africa, and North/West Australia will have a chance to see a partial eclipse. However, those living in North America, Europe and South America will unfortunately not be able to see this spectacle.
It is always recommended not to look directly at the sun on any given day due to the damage it can do to your vision. But it is advised against more strongly during the annular solar eclipse as a result of the nature of the phenomenon. This is because the moon will only cover around 97% of the sun's light and these rays can burn the retinas in your eyes which could lead to blindness or permanent damage among other vision issues.
If you still want to view this gift of the universe, you will need to wear eclipse glasses at all times or have solar filters installed on your telescopes of binoculars. Even if you aren't as keen on looking at the eclipse, you will notice the dip in light levels around you for a few minutes before or after it happens, states Time and Date.
It's all about the distance of the moon from the Earth. Courtesy of the moon looking as though it is 3% smaller than that of the sun, according to Space.com. Being at its furthest point away from the our planet during this time, the tip of the moon's cone of darkest shadow, called the umbra, will not reach Earth's surface. Hence, you won't feel the full effect of a grand total solar eclipse. But the ring of fire this phenomenon creates is certainly nothing to scoff at. And it is one to behold.
So enjoy your Christmas with your loved ones and bask in the glory of what nature has to offer the day after. As the decade comes to a close, this truly is a special moment.