Everything you need to know about today’s solar eclipse

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The “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse will be returning to Asia today for the first time in 20 years. The eclipse is expected to darken the Pakistan sky and people have been advised not to look directly at the sky during this period to avoid eye damage. Here’s everything you need to know about today’s historic solar eclipse.

Before going into detail about today’s solar eclipse it’s important to identify what a solar eclipse even is. The solar eclipse is a naturally occurring event that takes place when the moon moves in its orbit between the earth and the sun. This process is also known as occultation. This happens during the period of new moon; when the sun and moon are in conjunction with one another. Eclipses are a rare occurrence, since the lunar orbit is elliptical and tilted in proportion to Earth’s orbit, we only see about five eclipses per year. If, however, the moon was slightly closer to the earth and orbited in the same plane and in a circular motion, we would be able to view eclipses every month.

Moreover, not every solar eclipse is a total one. At times, the moon can be further away in its orbit than usual making it too small to fully cover the sun’s disk. When this happens, a bright ring of sunshine shines around the moon. This type of eclipse is referred to as an “annual” solar eclipse and is the type we witnessed in the nation today.

The annual eclipse is expected to last for about 5-12 minutes. Although the sun is mostly covered by the moon, enough blinding sunlight is able to escape during the eclipse that residents are advised not to stare directly into the light. In order to witness the annual solar eclipse fully, you need proper eye protection for the duration of the event.

Due to the ring of sunlight surrounding the moon, the annual solar eclipse is dubbed the “Ring of Fire”. In Pakistan, it was visible 7:30am and turned into a total eclipse around 8:46am.

In line with the Islamic tradition of offering prayers during times of solar eclipses, a special prayer called Salat al-Kasuf was offered in various places across the country and the prayer is to last for the duration of the solar eclipse.

The eclipse took place around different time frames in different Pakistani cities. Sadly for residents of Lahore, however, due to the city’s intense smog the eclipse was hardly visible. Some cities such as Islamabad provided binoculars in areas for residents to properly view the “Ring of Fire”.

Experts have issued a word of caution to not look directly at the sun without any protective eye apparatus as it could damage their eyesight. The radiation will be much more direct than it was during the last solar eclipse that occurred 20 years ago.

However, elaborate arrangements to observe the annular solar eclipse, with due provision for needed safety, have been made at the Astronomical Observatory.

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