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Solar eclipse on April 20 will bring darkness, 'ring of fire' effect

On April 20, the hybrid solar eclipse known as "Ningaloo" will feature both a total eclipse that will temporarily darken the sky, and an annular eclipse

Solar eclipse on April 20

Solar eclipse on April 20 will bring both darkness, ‘ring of fire’ effect. Photo: Shutterstock

Sonika Nitin Nimje New Delhi

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On April 20, the hybrid solar eclipse known as "Ningaloo" will feature both a total eclipse, which will temporarily dark the sky, and an annular eclipse in which the Moon will partially cover the Sun, causing a "ring of fire" effect.

Unfortunately, neither the total nor the annular phases of the solar eclipse will be visible to Indian viewers. The eclipse will best be seen from the Ningaloo coast in western Australia, after which it has been named. You can still watch the eclipse via the live stream even if you aren't in Western Australia at the time.  

The April 20 eclipse is a "hybrid" phenomenon due to certain regions of the planet, it will go from an annular eclipse to a total eclipse before returning to an annular eclipse. The Moon does not completely cover the Sun during the annular phase. A smaller, dark disc "on top" of the Sun will be seen instead. This gives the "ring of fire" impact.


Solar eclipse 2023: When and where?

According to the Government of Western Australia, a total solar eclipse will only be visible in one town, Exmouth, located on Australia's western coast.

However, a partial eclipse will be noticeable in Southeast Asia, the East Indies, the Philippines, New Zealand and different parts of Australia, according to former NASA astrophysicist and eclipse expert Fred Espenak. An annular eclipse will be visible to viewers in Timor-Leste and parts of Indonesia.


Solar eclipse 2023: Difference between a total and an annular eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, partially or completely blocking the Sun. During the entire Ningaloo eclipse, the sky will go totally dark as though it were early morning or late night.

Viewers situated in the Moon's shadow--particular regions of Western Australia in this case--will be the only ones to see the entire solar eclipse. Assuming suitable weather conditions, these viewers could try and see the Sun's corona (outer atmosphere), which is generally clouded by the star's bright face.

The Moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth during an annular eclipse, just like it does during a total eclipse. However, it will be quite far from Earth, because of which, the Moon will show up as a dark disc superimposed on the disc of the Sun to give the "ring of fire" effect.

As the Moon's shadow shifts across the Earth's surface, an eclipse can move between annular and total, depending on the curve of the Earth's surface. This is known as a hybrid eclipse. It is possible that viewers will be able to see the Ningaloo eclipse transition from annular to total and then back to annular.


Solar eclipse 2023: Any impact of Lunar eclipse?

Eclipses normally come in pairs, and this is valid for the April 20 solar eclipse also. On May 5, there will be a lunar eclipse following it. However, the lunar eclipse will be penumbral, indicating that the alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon will be imperfect.

When the Earth's shadow passes between the Moon's natural satellite and the Sun, it causes a lunar eclipse. During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Moon will just travel via the faint outer part of the Earth’s shadow.

As a result, it may be difficult to tell the lunar eclipse on May 5 from the Moon's normal phase. However, during the eclipse, there is a possibility that the Moon will appear slightly reddish. This is due to the main light arriving at the Moon will be what goes through the Earth’s atmosphere, which disperses the bluer wavelengths of light.

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First Published: Apr 19 2023 | 2:42 PM IST

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