Today, Sunday 21 June 2020, an annular solar eclipse was visible in the UAE, and a partial solar eclipse in Abu Dhabi. An expert at KU, Dr. Elena Fantino, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, explains what a solar eclipse is and its historical significance.
A solar eclipse occurs when a portion of the Earth is covered by the shadow of the Moon which fully or partially blocks the light from the Sun. This happens when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned and the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun. An eclipse can be total or partial. In a total solar eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. A partial eclipse is called annular when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence, the Sun appears as a thin ring surrounding the dark disk of the Moon.
Historically, solar eclipse observations were used to determine the geographic coordinates of a location and improve our knowledge of the orbits of the Earth and the Moon. In the early twentieth century, solar eclipses played a role in the confirmation of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The progress of technology led to the development of instruments (most noticeably the coronagraph) that allow to observe the solar corona and the prominences on the surface of the Sun without the need for solar eclipses. Nowadays, we can study the Sun with sophisticated instruments aboard space telescopes or by propagation of radio waves, but solar eclipses have not lost their importance and are still used to study variations in the Sun’s diameter, the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona and much more.
Local Type: Partial Solar Eclipse, in Abu Dhabi
Begins: Sun, 21 Jun 2020, 08:12
Maximum: Sun, 21 Jun 2020, 09:33 0.902 Magnitude
Ends: Sun, 21 Jun 2020, 11:08
Duration: 2 hours, 56 minutes
[data and image from https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi]