The globe is on a date with a rare annular solar eclipse, also known as “ring of fire” that will block out 97 per cent of the sun on Thursday. The astronomical phenomenon is eagerly awaited by many observers, including astronomers, space lovers and cosmic incident fans in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere; that is, the Middle East, India and south-east Asia. It is the third and the last for this year as the first solar eclipse happened on January 6, 2019, when it was partial, and the second one was on July 2, 2019, and it was a total solar eclipse.
Preparing for the big occurrence, Oman Astronomical Society (OAS) has already set about 15 locations around the Sultanate to observer the eclipse in Ashkhara, Adam, Nizwa, Suhar, Ibri, Rustaq, Haima, Buraimi, Salalah, Ibra, Al Mudhaibi, Wadi Andam, Seeb and Astro Camp for Hearing Impaired. The main monitoring site will be in Ras Ruwais as the location is a perfect spot to watch the solar eclipse at its peak in addition to beauty factors that feature the place.
WHERE TO WATCH
Ibrahim al Mahrooqi, a member at OAS, said, “The rare occurrence can be seen very clear in all wilayats of Oman except in Dhalkout where it shrinks by 85 per cent. We have prepared the site in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism. Also, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs has lent us telescopes used for moon sighting.”
The eclipse is expected to start at 6:30 am, 10 minutes after sunrise, reaches its peak around 7:40 am for almost three minutes and then begins to gradually recede until it finishes at 9 am.
Although many consider annular eclipse beautiful, this doesn’t deny the fact that it is also dangerous. Direct look to the sun may lead to a permanent lack of vision that cannot be cured, and even cause blindness in some cases. Lack of vision or blindness results from changes in the retina or centre of vision due to the rays issued received from the eclipse phenomenon.
TIPS TO PROTECT EYES
The Society listed, in its social media accounts, some tips to protect eyes like: avoid staring at the sun with a naked eye, even for a moment, without using appropriate protective equipment, avoid using normal sunglasses or watching the eclipse with cameras and telescopes that do not contain eclipse filters, and use safe glasses designed to prevent harmful rays from reaching the eye, which can be found in the Society, monitoring sites and Astro Portal Enterprises.
The annular solar eclipse happens when the moon covers the sun’s centre, leaving the sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the moon. Solar eclipses happen when the new moon casts a shadow on earth.
The moon’s shadow is not big enough to engulf the entire planet, so the shadow is always limited to a certain area. This area changes during the eclipse because the moon and earth are in constant motion: earth continuously rotates around its axis while it orbits the sun, and the moon orbits earth.
Solar eclipses are only visible from within the area where the shadow falls, and the closer you are to the centre of the shadow’s path, the bigger the eclipse looks.