A Different Corona In The News – Solar Eclipse 2020

Solar eclipse on 21 June, 2020 in India

The onset of Summer Solstice into this decade’s 23rd solar eclipse and first one of this year on Sunday June 21, giving enthusiastic skywatchers a magnificent view. This ring of fire spread across Africa, Asia and other 12 parts of the world.

Crux of the Matter

Ring of Fire this 2020
A solar eclipse is witnessed when the moon is aligned between the Sun and Earth, blocking the light received by the Earth from the Sun but the annual one happens only when the Moon is the farthest from the Earth. This makes the moon looks smaller and does not block the entire view of the Sun creating a “ring of fire” effect.

The coronavirus pandemic had its impact on the eclipse this year. With gatherings banned, special events organized at observatories and planetariums were canceled across the world. However, Astro-lovers chose to stay at home and enjoy the view with their own DIY pinhole cameras and solar filter equipments.

People eager to watch the eclipse in their terrace, while maintaining social distance

Which One Is This Corona Now?
The corona or the crown is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere and is usually hidden by the bright light of the Sun’s surface, which makes it difficult to be seen by the naked eye. This corona can thus only be seen during a total solar eclipse.

What’s Special About This Eclipse?
The annual solar eclipse coincidentally came on the longest day of this year, summer solstice, when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. This happens once in each hemisphere, twice yearly.

Annular Solar Eclipse as seen from Mehsana, Gujrat

While most seasons have two eclipses, one lunar and one solar, this one has three and this solar eclipse was the second of that trio. The first lunar eclipse came on June 5 and the final of the three, another lunar eclipse, will occur on July 4-5. These lunar eclipses were penumbral that create only a dark shading on the moon’s face.

Beyond Being A Pretty Phenomenon
Solar eclipses enable researchers to measure the diameter of the Sun accurately and to search for variations in that diameter over long time scale. Scientists can determine with precision the shape of the Moon, which helps in the prediction of ephemeride, the trajectory of naturally occurring astronomical objects. Geophysicists measure eclipse phenomena induced in the high terrestrial atmosphere.

Eclipses Are Much More

Discovery of Helium in India, 1868

French astronomer Jules Janssen noted the presence of a bright line in the yellow part of the sun’s spectrum, which indicated the presence of Helium gas along with common hydrogen. Thus came the name ‘Helios’, Greek for Sun.

Einstein’s Eclipse, 1919
One of the major components of Albert Einstein’s then lesser-known theory of relativity was the bending of starlight by the gravity of the Sun. To test his prediction, U.K. astrophysicist Arthur Eddington took pictures of a cluster of stars in the region around the sun, whose observations confirmed the theory, turning the German physicist into an instant international figure.

The total solar eclipse of 1919 that was a turning point for Einstein’s career
  • An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun’s, blocking most of the Sun’s light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring). An annular eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region of the Earth thousands of kilometers wide.
  • A corona is an aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars. The Sun’s corona extends millions of kilometers into outer space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse. Corona is derived from Latin for Crown which in turn is derived from Ancient Greek word for ‘garland, wreath’.
  • The magnitude of eclipse is the fraction of the angular diameter of a celestial body being eclipsed. The magnitude of a partial or annular solar eclipse is always between 0.0 and 1.0, while the magnitude of a total solar eclipse is always greater than or equal to 1.0.