What is an annular solar eclipse?

An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the Sun’s center, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon.

The name “annular” comes from the Latin word for ring, “annulus.” These eclipses are named for their darkest, or maximum, point even if it only lasts less than a second. If the characteristic ring of fire is visible from even just one location, the whole eclipse is called an annular solar eclipse. However, in most places and for most of the duration, an annular eclipse looks like a partial solar eclipse. This is also the case for total solar eclipses and for the rare hybrid solar eclipses which have an annular maximum point in some locations and a total maximum point in other locations.

Why Lalibela?

Ideally situated on the central line of the eclipse path, Lalibela has an elevation of 2,590 m (8,500 ft), well above the heat and humidity of the tropics. And while sunshine is not as abundant on the Ethiopian Highlands plateau as it is over the deserts of Arabia and Pakistan, it is nonetheless generous. Most clouds are convective in nature and tend to dissipate as the temperature falls ahead of the eclipse; but because the eclipse comes during the morning hours, around 8:00 am local time, the clouds will be in the early stages of their growth. Satellite photos from the past 18 years show that such an eclipse would have been visible in 14 of them.

Previous studies of eclipses in Ethiopia

Some of the eclipses observed and recorded  in Ethiopia, by ancient Ethiopians  in 15th , 16th & 17th Century are given below.

Time & date to Observe the Eclipse

An annular eclipse of the Sun occurs on Sunday 21 June, 2020 UT, lasting from 03:45–09:33 UT. A large annular eclipse will cover over 99% of the Sun, creating a dramatic spectacle for observers in a narrow path at most 21 km wide; it will last 38 seconds at the point of maximum eclipse. It will be seen from mid Africa, across the Middle East, northern India and south-east Asia. The partial eclipse will be visible over western Africa, the Middle East, and south and east Asia.

Eclipse safety & warning

Observing the Sun can be very dangerous if it is not done with the right equipment. The Sun is the brightest object in the sky, and looking directly at it can cause permanent eye damage within seconds. Viewing it through any optical instrument – even a pair of binoculars or the finderscope on the side of your telescope – can cause instant and permanent blindness. Never attempt to make your own filter. In addition to visible light, the Sun also produces prodigious amounts of infrared and ultraviolet radiation which cannot be seen yet can still damage your eye. Even if a home brew filter appears adequate, it may allow this unseen radiation to pass.

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