The first of two solar eclipses in 2023 is about to happen on Thursday (April 20). To make it even more special, it will be a hybrid solar eclipse, the first in a decade.
What is a hybrid solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth to cast a shadow on the Earth’s surface. There are four types of solar eclipses — total, partial, hybrid, and annular. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the face of the Sun from those on Earth.
In the case of annular eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the Sun, and “appears as a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk, creating what looks like a ring around the Moon,” explains the NASA website.
A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun, moon, and Earth are not perfectly lined up. Therefore, the moon covers only a part of the Sun, making it appear as a crescent.
Also read: Fest for astro buffs: Four eclipses this year; two to be visible in India
Finally, the NASA website explains that a hybrid solar eclipse occurs that “Because Earth’s surface is curved, sometimes an eclipse can shift between annular and total as the Moon’s shadow moves across the globe.” Therefore, the eclipse will appear as total in some places but as annular in others. This combination of an annular solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is a hybrid solar eclipse.
Hybrid solar eclipses are extremely rare. The last one occurred in November 2013, and the next one is due in November 2031.
Will the hybrid solar eclipse be visible in India?
Unfortunately, no. It will be visible only from parts of South East Asia and Australia. The “ring of fire,” as the annular eclipse famously creates, will be visible for a few seconds from the Indian and Pacific oceans. The total eclipse will be visible from only three locations on land — Exmouth in Western Australia and Timor Leste and West Papua in Indonesia.
Watch: Breaking the myths about solar eclipse
When and where to watch the hybrid solar eclipse
The eclipse will begin at 7.04 am and end at 12.29 pm (India time).
TimeAndDate.com will livestream the eclipse on its YouTube channel from 7 am India time on Thursday. NASA will also livestream the event.
The second and only other solar eclipse of the year is on October 14. That will also not be visible in India.
(With agency inputs)