Solar Eclipse 2024: Fascinating Points to Know

Solar eclipses have captivated humanity for millennia, igniting curiosity and inspiring scientific exploration. These breathtaking celestial events occur when the Moon aligns between the Earth and the Sun, resulting in the Moon obscuring the Sun’s light and causing its shadow to fall upon the Earth’s surface.

Solar Eclipse
Credits: in8finity

Types of Solar Eclipses

There are three types of ways in which the Sun, Moon, and Earth can align to create a solar eclipse, each with a unique view for sky-watchers.

Total Eclipse: Darkness at Noon

The moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face in a total eclipse. This creates a brief period of daytime darkness where you might even see the sun’s faint outer atmosphere, the corona.

Partial Eclipse: A Bite Out of the Sun 

During a partial eclipse, the moon only covers part of the sun, leaving a crescent-shaped sun visible. The difference between a total and partial eclipse might be subtle, especially for observers far from the path of totality (the area experiencing a total eclipse).

Annular Solar Eclipse: Ring of Fire 

Due to the Moon’s elliptical orbit, its distance from Earth can vary. During an annular eclipse, the Moon is at its farthest point (apogee) and appears smaller than the Sun. Consequently, the moon cannot completely cover the sun, leaving a bright ring of sunlight visible around the moon.

Types of Solar Eclipses
Image credits (left to right): Hinode/XRT, NASA/Aubrey Gemignani, NASA/Noah Moran |

The Demon (Rahu, Ketu) Story

In Hindu cosmology, Samudra Manthan is a pivotal event. Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) collaborated to extract Amrita, the elixir of immortality. However, the Asuras desired to claim Amrita for themselves.

One cunning Asura named Swarbhanu disguised himself as a Deva to partake in the distribution of Amrita. The Sun and Moon, celestial guardians with keen perception, identified the imposter and alerted Vishnu, the preserver god. Vishnu, assuming the form of the beautiful Mohini, had successfully distributed Amrita to the Devas.

Just as Swarbhanu was about to receive Amrita, Vishnu intervened in his Mohini form. Vishnu’s swift action severed Swarbhanu with the Sudarshana Chakra (divine disc). However, the severance wasn’t complete due to the potent Amrita coursing through Swarbhanu. The head, imbued with the elixir’s power, became Rahu, an immortal entity forever yearning for the whole. The remaining serpentine body, forever connected to the severed head, became Ketu.

Rahu and Ketu Mythology
Mohini Severing Swarbhanu
Credits: Pinterest

Though denied complete immortality, both Rahu and Ketu are eternally bound by their origin as Swarbhanu. They incessantly chase the Sun and moon across the heavens, forever seeking revenge for their thwarted attempt. When they succeed in their pursuit, it manifests as an eclipse – Rahu causing a solar eclipse and Ketu causing a lunar eclipse.

Astronomical representation of lunar nodes

In astronomy, the lunar nodes are the points where the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic plane. There are two of these nodes: the North Node (also known as the ascending node or Rahu in Vedic astrology) and the South Node (descending node or Ketu in Vedic astrology). However, it is important to note that in astronomy, these nodes are not physical celestial bodies but rather mathematical points in space.

Will April 2024’s solar eclipse be visible in India? 

No, the eclipse will not be visible in India.  The Total Solar eclipse occurring on 08th April, 2024 will be seen in thirteen states, from Texas to Maine. The eclipse’s path begins in Mexico around 11:07 a.m. PDT, entering the United States through Texas. The eclipse will end on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada, at 5:16 p.m. NDT.

08 April 2024 Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse of 08 April 2024

Future Solar Eclipses for India to See

On August 2, 2027, India will experience a partial solar eclipse, which will be visible from all parts of India. The eclipse will begin in Rajasthan at approximately 03:06 p.m. IST and will be seen throughout India. Assam will be the last state in India to witness the eclipse around 04:49 p.m. IST. The eclipse peak will not be observed in India. As totality will be observed, it will be visible along a narrow path travelling across parts of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and western/southern Asia. Apart from these places, a partial solar eclipse will be observed in nearby countries.

02 August 2027- Solar Eclipse
02 August 2027- Solar Eclipse

Post this, the next total solar eclipse that will be visible in India will take place on March 20, 2034, along with eleven other countries across Africa and West Asia. The eclipse’s path will start in Nigeria around 9:01 a.m. WAT and then traverse through other African countries.

Ensuring safety is paramount when engaging in the observation of celestial phenomena. While the spectacle of a total solar eclipse offers a breathtaking glimpse into the cosmos, it is crucial to exercise caution. Directly viewing the sun, even during the period of totality, poses risks to ocular health. The recommended approach for safe observation involves using specialized eclipse glasses equipped with certified filters. To learn more about safety techniques while observing eclipses  Click Here

Unfortunately, the solar eclipse today may not be visible from India. However, astronomy enthusiasts should remain optimistic as celestial events unfold. Mark your calendars for a total lunar eclipse in September 2025 and a total solar eclipse in 2027. These events offer captivating glimpses into the cosmos and serve as reminders of the intricate workings of the universe, rewarding patience and anticipation with awe-inspiring celestial displays.



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