Jan 14, 2010

Partial solar eclipse tomorrow!

Same as last year, the main show is not the partial eclipse, but the annular one which begins its path in Africa and passes through Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia. After leaving Africa, the path crosses the Indian Ocean where the maximum duration of annularity reaches 11 min 08 s. The central path then continues into Asia through Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and China.

A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow, which includes Eastern Europe, most of Africa, Asia, and Indonesia.

In Malaysia, the first contact – when the Moon first “touches” the Sun – begins around 3:01 pm. The Moon will then slowly cover up part of the Sun until maximum eclipse at 4:26 pm, when the Sun is 39 degrees above the horizon. Around 5:38 pm, the Moon leaves the Sun’s disk and the show ends.

During maximum eclipse, 28.6% of the Sun’s disk (area) will be obscured by the Moon, although 40.9% of the Sun’s diameter is obscured. That’s the different between eclipse obscuration and eclipse magnitude.

So now, how to observe this event safely?

There are few ways. You can project the image of the Sun onto a piece of paper or a wall either by using pinhole projector or telescope, or use a solar filter either the glasses type or attached it in front of a telescope. Only then, you can observe the Sun safely. You don’t really need a telescope to enjoy this.

Please bear in mind that although the Sun will be partially covered, the remaining of the crescent Sun will still be intense enough to damage your eyes. It is NOT safe at all to look at the partial Sun directly.