The First Solar Eclipse Of The Year Will Be On Display This Weekend
Coinciding with Father's Day, the first solar eclipse of the year will be taking place this weekend. Though not to be confused with a total eclipse – which occurs when the moon completely covers the sun – the annular solar eclipse is known for its characteristic ring of fire. The phenomenon occurs when the alignment of the moon is such that the central part of the sun is obscured from the earth’s views, leaving only the outer rim – the ring of fire – visible.
Taking place only every one to two years, the next annular solar eclipse will be happening this Sunday, June 21.
The annular phase of this solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Africa, the south of Pakistan, northern India and parts of China. Although the full annular eclipse will not be visible from Hong Kong, a partial solar eclipse will be able to be seen in the afternoon. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon partially obscures the sun, casting a half-shadow – or a penumbra – on earth.
From 2.37pm HKT on Sunday, June 21 the moon will touch the sun’s edge to begin the partial eclipse, with the maximum eclipse occurring at 4.08pm. The eclipse will last until 5.24pm when the moon leaves the sun’s edge.
"During this solar eclipse, Hong Kong will be close to the path of annularity. The magnitude of the eclipse will be 0.89, meaning that 89 per cent of the sun's diameter will be obscured by the moon at maximum eclipse. This is the solar eclipse with the largest magnitude visible since 2012 and the solar eclipse with even larger magnitude will not occur until 2070", the Hong Kong Observatory said on its website.
The Observatory went not to explain that "as the elevation of the sun will be rather high during the eclipse, the event can be best observed at places with an unobstructed view towards the west if weather permits."
Although a rare site to be seen, it's worth remembering to never look directly at the eclipse, with the HKO warning that “members of the public should never look directly at the sun with the naked eye nor through a telescope to avoid severe eye damage.”
The next full annular eclipse observable in Hong Kong will be on 9 May 2320, with the next total solar eclipse visible on 21 March 2881.