The decade ends in spectacular fashion with the final eclipse of 2019. This “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse takes place today, thrilling amateur astronomers and photographers alike in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Timeanddate.com revealed today’s annular solar eclipse will begin at 2.23am GMT on Thursday, December 26 (9.23pm EST on Wednesday).
Skywatchers in the UK and northern Europe consequently missed out on the solar eclipse, as the Sun has not risen in the sky.
The partial solar eclipse will peak as a “Ring of Fire” at 10.34pm EST (3.34 GMT) in Saudi Arabia.
The 88-mile (142 km) visibility path of “ring of fire” will then move across Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Singapore, Borneo, the Philippines and Guam, allowing millions of people to enjoy the solar spectacle.
Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or even blindness.
Generally, the same equipment, techniques and precautions used to observe the Sun outside of eclipse are required for annular eclipses and the partial phases of total eclipses.
The safest and most inexpensive of these methods is by projection, in which a pinhole or small opening is used to cast the image of the Sun on a screen placed approximately half a metre beyond the opening.
Binoculars can also be used to project a magnified image of the Sun on a white card, but you must avoid the temptation of using these instruments for direct viewing.
The Sun can be viewed directly only when using filters specifically designed for this purpose.
These filters usually have a thin layer of aluminium, chromium or silver deposited on their surfaces that attenuates ultraviolet, visible, and infrared energy.
One of the most widely available filters for safe solar viewing is a number 14 welder’s glass, available through welding supply outlets.
No filter is safe to use with any optical device, such as a telescope or binoculars, unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose.
Experienced amateur and professional astronomers may also use one or two layers of completely exposed and fully developed black-and-white film, provided the film contains a silver emulsion.
When will the next lunar and solar eclipses appear?
January 10–11, 2020: Penumbral lunar eclipse (when the Sun, Earth, and the Moon are in imperfect alignment).
June 5–6, 2020: Penumbral lunar eclipse.
June 21, 2020: Annular solar eclipse.
July 4–5, 2020: Penumbral lunar eclipse.
November 29–30, 2020: Penumbral lunar eclipse.
December 14, 2020: Total solar eclipse.