Annular Solar Eclipse on June 21, 2020. What Holds for Africa?

On the 21st of this month of June, our planet Earth will witness the 3rd out of six (6) rounds of eclipses scheduled for the year 2020. The first two eclipses were lunar eclipses which occurred on January 10th and June 5th. They were both observed from Africa. The forthcoming will be a solar eclipse. The remaining three (3) will be: July 5th Lunar eclipse, November 30 Lunar eclipse and December 14 Solar eclipse.

WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

This occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth in such a way they become so aligned or almost aligned in a straight form.  This results in some parts of  the Earth to be partially of totally obscured from the rays of sunlight. Solar eclipses can as well be called “eclipse of the Sun” and it should be noted that it happens during new moon but not during all new moon.

Image showing during solar eclipse, the moon is between Earth and the Sun. Image credit: NASA

There are three (3) but four (4) types of solar eclipses:
Partial
Total
Annular
Hybrid

Image credit: national eclipse. com

Partial solar eclipse is the most recurring and can  be seen alongside with each of the aforementioned three. It can occur alone. In such case there is no perfect alignment, so Earth transits along the  diffuse shadow  of the moon called the penumbra

Image showing what a partial solar eclipse typically looks like.
Image credit: Himal Bhandari from Nepal

Total solar eclipse is the most thrilling of all the solar eclipses. It occurs when the moon is in a perfect alignment and at its perigee to Earth. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk becomes completely blocked. Regions under the Umbra of the shadow of the moon experience total darkness, and as indicated earlier, regions of the world not under the umbra experiences partial solar eclipse (that is, penumbra). To have the best view of the Sun’s Corona, it is during total solar eclipse. It is not only the best but the only moment to do so. Note: Total solar eclipse occurs ones in every two years somewhere on Earth but any region of the Earth that has ever experienced it will encounter it again in the next 400 years counting from the year in occurred last there.

Portions which fall under the umbra experiences total solar eclipse while parts which fall under the penumbra experiences partial solar eclipses.
Image credit: TimeAndDate.com
What total solar eclipse really looks like. Those white in the background are the Sun Corona.
Image credit: NASA

Annular solar eclipse is the second most spectacular after the total solar eclipse and second most frequent after partial solar eclipse. Like total solar eclipse, it occurs when the moon is on a perfect alignment, but this moment at Apogee. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk is not completely submerged by the moon’s disk. So regions that fall under the Antumbra see a ring of fire called Annualus in Greek while the region which fall under the penumbra see a Partial solar eclipse.

                                                   Image credit: In-The-Sky.com
                                                                 Image credit: NASA

Hybrid Solar Eclipses for a given solar eclipse is the case where by some parts of the Earth perceives it as a total solar eclipse and other perceives it as an annular solar eclipse. This is as a result of the geometry of Earth. It is also called
Annular/Total solar eclipses. This kind of eclipse is the rarest of all. The last time such was experienced was on November 3, 2013.

                                                      Image credit: TimeAndDate.com

On June 21 of this year, we will experience Annual solar eclipse across some parts of: Africa, South – East Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

Regions of the African continent that will come under path of Annularity are: Republic of Congo
Democratic republic of Congo. Central Africa republic
South Sudan
Sudan
Ethiopia
Eritrea
and Into the red sea and beyond.

Nearby countries to these aforementioned ones will experience ONLY partial solar eclipse (penumbra). Every other person can stream it live from this link.

Starting from the Republic of Congo, it will kickoff as a partial solar eclipse at 4:46 a.m (GMT + 1) and then Annular by 5:47 a.m (GMT + 1) an will then move to the East according as depicted on the map below.

                                                                 Path of Annularity
Image credit: national eclipse. com

So if you are in or around these mapped locations and you do want to witness this event, you have to be on the guide from 04:46 a.m (GMT + 1), because  for a given point it will last for less than 3 minutes. the whole event from Africa to Asia, from Penumbra to Annular and back to penumbra will last for 5hrs, 38 minutes.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

It is very dangerous to look at the sun with your naked eyes, binoculars or telescope. This Handbook and Posters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) designed by the African Astronomical Society explains all about the eclipse and how to see it. A free android app on the eclipse has been developed by Alok Mandavgane for the Astronomical Society of India, and adapted for Africa.

 

Wishing you all a clear skies on June 21st

A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid To Make A Flyby On Saturday (June 6) Morning.

Following the news about the transit of Asteroid 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. Another Asteroid dubbed Asteroid 2002 NN4 is set to make a flyby in the early morning hours of Saturday by these times according to the six (6) time zones in Africa:

GMT – 1 =  2:20 am
GMT + 0 = 3:20 am
GMT + 1=  4:20 am
GMT + 2 = 5:20 am
GMT + 3=  6:20 am
GMT + 4 = 7:20 am

 

Map showing the different time zones in Africa. Image Credit: TimeTemperature.com

 

Just as the name implies, Asteroid 2002 NN4 was discovered on July 9, 2002.
Compared to Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is lesser in size, its diameter measured as at range of 254 meters to 568 meters according to SpaceReference.org This is roughly comparable to the size of a football stadium.

More so, according to NASA’s JPL, like Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is also classified as potentially hazardous. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) are the ones whose orbits come closer to Earth at a distance less than or equal to 7.5 million kilometers.
Asteroid 2002 NN4 will pass at a safe distance of approximately 5.1 million kilometers, which is about more than 13 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

 

Image showing Earth’s orbit round the sun. Image credit: SpaceReference.org
                        Image showing the orbits of Asteroid 2020 NN4 and Earth.
                                              Image credit: SpaceReference.org
To play around with the orbit simulation, click here.

Generally, Both Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 and 1,679 other Asteroids  are  grouped under a certain  category called Aten-Class or Apollo Asteroids. These are group of Asteroids whose orbital paths bring them in close proximity to Earth.

                                                    Image credit: Wikipedia
Lan O’Neill of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: “In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a (very) safe distance.”

The Asteroid makes a complete revolution about the sun within 300 days. It spins about its axis every 14 days 30 minutes.

Since the transit of Asteroid 2002 NN4 is slated for Saturday morning, Stars gazers around Africa maybe able to spot it using their backyard telescopes. It can also be viewed via various NASA channels or agencies serving the same purpose.

Lunar Eclipse + Strawberry Full Moon. What Holds For Africa.

Every year, our planet Earth is capable of experiencing  four (4) to seven (7) eclipses.
But this year 2020, we will experience only six (6) of them: four (4) lunar and two (2) solar eclipses.
We have already witnessed a penumbra lunar eclipse earlier this year on January 10.
This June month alone, we will experience two (2) of them, each of solar and lunar.
The lunar eclipse will occur on June 5th and the solar eclipse, on 21st.

Lunar eclipse occurs when Earth comes between the sun and the moon and its shadow falls on the moon.

There are three (3) different kinds of Lunar eclipse:

The total
The partial
The Penumbra lunar eclipse.

 

                Image showing how the different kinds of Lunar eclipses look like.
Image credit: Earthsky
                                                                    Image credit: Time and Date

During the total lunar eclipse, the three: Sun, Earth (at middle) and moon are on a straight line.
Here, the moon is completely submerged into the umbral of the Earth and we observe the red moon. This kind is the most impressive of all. And can be seen by everyone. The last time we witnessed this was on January 20/21, 2019.

Images showing how the moon is wholly within the umbral of Earth during total Lunar eclipse.
Image credit: Mocomi
                                                 The red Moon.Image credit: NASA

For partial lunar eclipse, with Earth still in between the Sun and the  moon but do not form a straight line, what is observed is a small part of the moon covered by the umbral of the Earth. It is the second most impressive and the last time such occurred was on July 16, 2019.

Image shows part of the moon covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Mocomi
Part of the lit side of the moon is covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Time and Date

Penumbra lunar eclipse is the one in which the Moon crosses the Earth’s diffuse shadow and it does not appear red. In fact, it is hardly noticed and it looks pretty much like a normal full moon. A slight dimming of the lunar disk is usually observed. This is the one that we are expecting on June 5th, 2020.

How a penumbra lunar eclipse looks like.
Image credit: Earthsky
Image showing the start, maximum and end of penumbra lunar eclipse. image credit: Hong Kong Observatory

What is general for all kinds of lunar eclipses is that they do not require any aid for use to be able to observe them.

So, starting from June 4th till 6th, there will be a full moon. During these periods, will lie behind the moon, is a  red supergiant star by name Antares. Which is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion.

Image credit: nemesis maturity

But the  real event  starts on the 5th. Regions such as: Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa are the ones that will be privileged to witness it.

Image credit: Space.com

This Penumbra lunar eclipse is expected to last for three (3) hours, eighteen (18) minutes.
The time from start to end for the six (6) time zones across Africa are below:
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Image showing the six time zones in Africa. Red corresponds to GMT – 1 and Black corresponds to GMT + 4. Image credit: TimeTemperature.com
Table showing the start, maximum and end of the lunar eclipse for the six time zones of Africa. image credit: AWbNigeria

Why was it called “Strawberry Full moon?”

Like every other cultures in the world has a name and meaning they call each full moon of any given month. The name “strawberry moon” dates back to the native Americans. June was that period of the year for harvesting strawberries. On the other hand, strawberries are not native to the Europeans, so they call theirs, “Rose moon”

Hence, we call it Strawberry full moon or Rose full moon.

As you go outside to observe the lunar eclipse + full moon, I wish you a clear night sky.