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The Science of Solar Eclipse

Both modern and ancient poetry has been revolving around natural wonders like the sun; moon the earth since time immemorial. Time and over again, there have been innumerable stories about phenomena such as eclipses // involving the three. Eclipses have occurred often in mythology and literature of different cultures and different ages.

Eclipses have long been regarded as a sign of bad omen. It would have remained so if not for the dawn of a new era called astrophysics. It is usually perceived by many as a symbol of obliteration, fear, and the overthrow of the natural order of things. The word “ Eclipse” hails from a Greek origin, literally meaning “abandonment”.

There have been certain myths’ regarding the occurrence of eclipses such as the eclipse is nothing but an embodiment of a dragon or demon, trying to devour the Sun, held in high regard. These myths were soon replaced by scientific knowledge as a mechanistic, logical view of the universe grew. It soon marked the dawn of a new subject called astrophysics.

It is now known that a Solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and Sun. If the moon's shadow happens to fall upon Earth's surface at that time, then we see some portion of the Sun's disk covered or 'eclipsed' by the Moon. An annular eclipse differs from a total eclipse in that the Moon appears too small to completely cover the Sun. As a result, the Moon is surrounded by an intensely brilliant ring or annulus formed by the uneclipsed outer perimeter of the Sun's disk.

On Monday, October 03, an annular eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor, which traverses the Iberian Peninsula and stretches across the African continent. A partial eclipse will be seen in area including Europe, western Asia, the Middle East, India and most of Africa.

Partial eclipses, annular eclipses, and the partial phases of total eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precauti ons. Do not attempt to observe the partial or annular phases of any eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or blindness!

The safest and most inexpensive method to observe the phenomena is by indirect projection, in which a pinhole or small opening is used to cast the image of the Sun on a screen placed a half-meter or more beyond the opening.

The Sun can be viewed directly only when using filters specifically designed for this purpose. Such filters usually have a thin layer of aluminum, chromium or silver deposited on their surfaces that attenuates ultraviolet, visible, and infrared energy.

The use of color films, non-silver black and white film, medical X-ray films should never be used for viewing the eclipse due to potential hazard from infra red rays. The fact that the Sun appears dark in a filter or that you feel no discomfort does not guarantee that your eyes are safe.

It is generally said that pregnant women should relax in a bed if possible during an eclipse. It is wise, to ensure proper care of a pregnant women during an eclipse as science has discovered that people who hurt themselves by way of a cut or a fracture, during an eclipse take a longer to heal as the blood flow seems to be more during that time than at any other time.

Avoid all unnecessary risks. However, if you wish to have a safe view of the eclipse, it is recommended that you contact the nearest local planetarium for additional information.

As when the Sun, new risen,

Looks through the horizontal misty air,

Shorn of his beams, or from behind the Moon,

In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds

On half the nations, and with fear of change

Perplexes monarchs.

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