MassMutual Jr.Space Camp

When the Moon orbits into a position between the Sun and the Earth and the three heavenly bodies are in a line, a solar eclipse takes place because the Moon blocks the sunlight and casts a shadow on the Earth.

Total Eclipse
A Total Eclipse occurs when the Moon is near to the Earth and in a direct line between the Earth and the Sun, obscuring the entire face of the Sun. Only a small area on the Earth has the opportunity to observe a Total Eclipse at any one time.

(Image Credit: NASA)

Annular Eclipse
When the Moon is relatively distant to the Earth, it is unable to obscure the entire face of the Sun but covers only the center of the Sun. At this time people in the antumbra area on the Earth will be able to observe the Sun as a very bright ring (annulus) around the Moon in the sky.

(Image Credit: NASA)

Partial Eclipse
People in the penumbra area, which is a relatively larger area than the umbra or antumbra areas, will be able to observe the Sun is only partly obscured by the Moon. The rest of the Sun is still clearly shown during Partial Eclipse.

(Image Credit: NASA)
Places on Earth
Types of Solar Eclipses
Total Eclipse
Partial Eclipse
Partial Eclipse
Annular Eclipse
Partial Eclipse
(a) Total Eclipse
(i) Eclipse Begins : When the outline of Moon touches the outline of the Sun, this is the start of a Partial Eclipse.
(ii) Total Eclipse Begins : When the Moon starts to obscure the Sun and block the sunlight, the total eclipse will start.
(iii) Maximum Eclipse : When the centers of the Moon and the Sun are at their closest.
(iv) Total Eclipse Ends : The total eclipse comes to an end when the Sun is no longer obscured by the Moon and some parts of it can be observed again.
(v) Eclipse Ends : When the outline of Moon once again touches the outline of the Sun, this is the end of the Partial Eclipse.

(b) Annular Solar Eclipse
Eclipse Begins→ Annular Eclipse Begins→ Maximum Eclipse→ Annular Eclipse Ends→ Eclipse Ends

(c) Partial Solar Eclipse
Eclipse Begins→ Maximum Eclipse→ Eclipse Ends

It is extremely dangerous to use the naked eye to observe a solar eclipse directly as sunlight is so strong that may cause blindness.

There are two safe methods for observing a solar eclipse:
(a.) Projection method: a telescope is used to project the image of the solar eclipse on to a white cardboard.

(b.) Solar Filter: Apart from the projection method, a specially designed solar filter can be installed on a telescope so that the filtered image can be observed through the telescope.

(Image Credit: The University of Hong Kong)
Forthcoming solar eclipses in 2017-2020:
Date (HKT) Type Area of Visibility Hong Kong
26/02/2017 Annular South America, Atlantic, Africa, Antarctica not visible
22/08/2017 Total North America not visible
16/02/2018 Partial Antarctica not visible
13/07/2018 Partial Ocean at the South of Australia not visible
11/08/2018 Partial North America, Arctic, North Asia not visible
06/01/2019 Partial East Asia, North Pacific not visible
03/07/2019 Total South Pacific, South America not visible
26/12/2019 Annular Asia, Australia partial
21/06/2020 Annular Africa, Asia partial
14/12/2020 Total South Pacific, South America not visible
(The above data is provided by Hong Kong Space Museum)

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