Eclipse from the Backyard

An annular solar eclipse occurred on Dec 26, 2019, and was visible over India as well as Bangladesh, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The annular phase was visible only in Southern India in the districts of Coimbatore, Erode, Karur, Dindigul, Sivagangai, Tiruchi and Pudukottai in Tamilnadu and a few districts in Kerala.

A solar eclipse can be a total eclipse when the moon completely obscures the Sun, or in this case, an annular solar eclipse when the Sun appears as an annulus or ring of fire. In both instances, the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are all in an exact straight line. It will be a partial eclipse, as was witnessed in Chennai, when the Moon, Sun and Earth are not aligned to our view in an exact straight line.

The eclipse began at 8.08 am and ended at 11.10 am and its peak was observed a 9.04 am with around 84.7% of the Sun obscured by the moon.

Birla Planetarium at Chennai arranged telescopes and solar glasses for people witnessing the eclipse. Over six thousand people turned up to view the eclipse.

The images were taken from the author’s terrace using a basic Canon IXUS 185 digital camera with the help of a tripod. Old X-ray plates were used as filters to reduce Sun’s brightness. Variations in settings like ISO, shutter speed, exposure time, zoom and switching between manual and auto modes caused various colour shades of the sun. High-quality images can be captured with the help of professional cameras.

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