Happy Diwali 2013! A rare total solar eclipse will be visible today from a number of countries and cities across the world, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman in the UAE.

According to the astronomers, much of the world will be able to witness at least a partial eclipse, and residents of all the emirates in the UAE will be able to enjoy the rare occurrence this early evening.

The ‘hybrid’ solar eclipse will see the moon pass directly across the sun, yielding a fleeting annular eclipse at the beginning and a relatively brief total eclipse later on. In the UAE, the celestial event will begin around 5.21pm in the evening of November 3, 2013, and is expected to last for a little more than an hour-and-a-half. Technically, the partial eclipse will end in the UAE later in the evening at 7.05pm.

But, across Dubai, Sharjah and most of the other emirates, sunset is expected at around 5.35pm today (yes, that early), and that’s when the spectacle for us will be more or less over. In Abu Dhabi, however, today’s sunset is expected at 5.41pm, so the solar eclipse will be visible for a few more minutes in the capital.

The eclipse will in fact peak just at the sunset time, so that’s when the partial eclipse will be the most ‘visible’ in respective emirates.

A normal solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and earth, and the result is either a total or partial solar eclipse.

But today’s event is different in that it’s something of a hybrid, which means that the eclipse will be partial in some places and total in others. The eclipse is partial where the moon aligns with the sun, but the lunar disc doesn’t completely hide the sun. The partial eclipse is generally more beautiful in that it appears as a ring of fire, while total eclipse appears as a diamond ring.

In the region, a partial eclipse will be visible across the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, Mecca, Istanbul, Ankara, Amman, Damascus, Kuwait City, Manama, Doha, Muscat, and others.
For today’s eclipse, it is advisable to NOT look at the sun directly with the naked eye during the event. Also, do not use poorly filtered or unfiltered binoculars or telescope to look at the sun during the eclipse – it may cause damage to your cornea.

A solar eclipse is best viewed with a pinhole camera – a simple device that can also be cobbled together quickly by you in case you don’t have it. It’s as simple as punching a pinhole (a few millimetres in diameter) in paper or cardboard, and then holding it up to the sun at an angle that will make the sun’s image get projected onto another piece of paper. (Again, DO NOT look at the sun directly through the pinhole.) For all those who don’t wish to take a chance, you may catch the event online at a number of websites, including Slooh.com (live.slooh.com).

It will be last time for the shadow of the moon to cross the earth in 2013. This year has somewhat been a year of eclipses, with three lunar eclipses and two solar eclipses, including today’s hybrid solar eclipse. Today’s even is the fifth and final eclipse of 2013, and according to Nasa, is the most interesting eclipse of the year.

Solar eclipses in any case are rare, and the next time the UAE will witness a partial solar eclipse will be on December 26, 2019, more than six years from now.

According to Nasa, “The final event of 2013 is the most interesting eclipse of the year. It is one of the rare hybrid or annular/total eclipses in which some sections of the path are annular [partially visible] while other parts are total. The duality comes about when the vertex of the moon’s umbral shadow pierces earth’s surface at some locations, but falls short of the planet along other sections of the path.”

It adds: “The unusual geometry is due to the curvature of earth’s surface that brings some geographic locations into the umbra while other positions are more distant and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow.

In most cases, the central path begins annular, changes to total for the middle portion of the track, and reverts back to annular towards the end of the path. However, November 3 eclipse is even more unique because the central path begins annular and ends total. Because hybrid eclipses occur near the vertex of the moon’s umbral/antumbral shadows, the central path is typically quite narrow.”

Nasa says that today’s hybrid eclipse is visible from within a thin corridor, which traverses the North Atlantic and equatorial Africa. “A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the moon’s penumbral shadow, which includes eastern North America, northern South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”


Source:  Emirates 24/7