What is the annular solar eclipse of June 10 and how often it occurs
in photo: Annular eclipse. Credit: Smrgeog / Wikipedia

Among the most fascinating and engaging astronomical phenomena of all there is undoubtedly theeclipse of the Sun, or the partial or total darkening of the solar disk due to the transit of the Luna before it. Typically this event occurs in the phase of New moon O New Moon, when the satellite of the Earth stands more or less precisely between the planet and the stella. In the late morning of June 10, it will be possible to admire a particular type of solar eclipse in the sky, namely one annular eclipse, known for creating a magnificent “ring of fire” in the sky. Unfortunately fromItaly the phenomenon will not be visible, if not through live streaming from the geographic areas directly affected, such as Canada. From the Central and Northern Regions it will however be possible to observe apartial eclipse, with the solar disk just “scratched” by the passage of the Moon; in the northernmost cities, in fact, the companion of the Earth will gnaw at the most the 5 percent of the solar disk. But what exactly is an annular solar eclipse? And how frequent is it? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the annular eclipse of the Sun.

The Sun, the Earth and the Moon are not perfectly aligned between them, therefore only on certain occasions, during the constant pilgrimage in space, the satellite and the planet obscure each other, giving life to the solar or lunar eclipses. The solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is exactly between the Earth and the Sun, shielding the passage of the sun’s rays. Although the Sun is about 1.4 million kilometers in diameter and the Moon just under 3,500 kilometers, due to the noticeable difference in distances – the Sun is at 150 million kilometers while the Moon, on average, is barely 384 thousand kilometers – to a terrestrial observer the lunar disk and the solar disk appear approximately the same size on the sky. When the lunar disk completely covers the solar one, there is a total eclipse, a phenomenon much studied by scientists because it allows us to observe in detail the solar corona. In some cases, however, although the lunar disk passes perfectly in front of that of the Sun, it fails to cover it completely, leaving the edges of the star free and giving life to the spectacular ring of fire of annular eclipses. How is it possible? The reason lies in the fact that the Moon has a lot of orbit elliptical, therefore the New Moon, the phase in which solar eclipses occur, can occur both when the satellite is closer to the Earth (perigeo) that when it is further away (apogee). When the Moon is at its apogee, its disk appears smaller to our eyes than usual due to the greater distance, therefore in the event of an eclipse it cannot completely cover the solar one.

Solar eclipse of June 10, who will be able to see it and at what time

Tomorrow, Thursday 10 June, the particular circumstance of the annular eclipse will be determined, allowing the lucky inhabitants of Canada, Siberia and Greenland (and other northern countries) to admire the event in all its splendor, with a ring of fire which will have a maximum duration of 3 minutes and 51 seconds at the point of best observation. We will have to “settle” for the aforementioned direct streaming, such as the one that will broadcast the Virtual Telescope Project starting at 11:30. We remind you that observing the Sun with the naked eye or through an optical instrument without adequate protection can cause irreparable damage to sight and even blindness.

How often do solar eclipses occur

If the Earth, the Moon and the Sun were perfectly aligned we would have an eclipse of the Sun every new moon, however, as pointed out by Dr. Fred Espanak, an American astrophysicist and one of the world’s leading eclipse experts, the Moon’s orbit is tilted about 5 degrees relative to the orbit of the Earth. Because of this, during most of the New Moons, when the Moon stands between the Earth and the Sun, the Moon’s orbit passes a little higher or a little lower than the orbital plane of the Earth, missing the darkening. However, some type of solar eclipse occurs at least a couple of times a year, mainly of a partial type (up to five times in 12 months), due to the fact that the Moon only covers part of the solar disk. Total solar eclipses are rarer and have a frequency of about one year and a half between one and the other. The last annular eclipses occurred on September 1, 2016, February 26, 2017 and June 21, 2020, while the next ones will be tomorrow (June 10, 2021), October 14, 2023 and October 2, 2024. These dates indicate that these are relatively frequent phenomena, but they are still rare due to the fact that each time they are visible in their entirety only from a small portion of the earth’s surface.

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