North-East states to witness solar eclipse on May 21

An annular solar eclipse will take place tomorrow which can be seen from the region covering China, most of Russia, South East Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hawaii, Arctic regions and North America except the easternmost part, President of Planetary Society of India N Raghunandan said.

The eclipse will, however, be visible (as partial eclipse) from North-East states for a very short duration after sunrise, he said.

Most of the North-East states, where sun will rise around/after 4.41 AM, will witness this celestial phenomenon for few minutes only.

This is because the eclipse will not be visible beyond 4.52 AM from the country, which lies in broader penumbral path of Moon's shadow (away from Central/Umbra path) resulting in partial solar eclipse.

Some of the places that lie near the periphery of the Moon shadow and which can see a glimpse of the eclipse are west-end of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Agartala, Shillong, Saidpur and Bogra, Professor (retired) R C Kapoor of Indian Institute of Astrophysics told PTI.

The best place to view the eclipse is the north-easternmost corner in Arunachal Pradesh, he said.

The eclipse begins at 2.26 AM (IST) and ends at 8.19 AM (IST). The maximum phase of eclipse will be at 05.23 AM when the eclipse magnitude reaches 0.945.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring the earth's view of the sun, while an annular eclipse occurs when the moon is farther from the earth than normal, and hence its apparent size is not quite sufficient to cover the sun completely.

In annular solar eclipse, the sun appears as a very bright annulus, which in Latin means 'ring', surrounding the outline of the moon, giving the appearance of a 'Ring of fire'.

The last annular eclipse, which was visible from India, happened on January 15, 2010. The next solar eclipse, which will be a total solar eclipse, shall occur on November 13 this year.

Only properly designed and certified solar filters or goggles should be used to view the annular solar eclipse, Kapoor said.