On Thursday, 20 April, the moon will block the sun in a phenomenon known as a hybrid solar eclipse. This is a first in a decade. In this type of eclipse, the total solar eclipse changes to annular (ring-shaped) as the moon's shadow moves across the surface of the Earth. This last such eclipse occurred in 2013, and the next is expected in 2031. After that, there is a long wait until March 23, 2164, according to a report on Space.com. The hybrid solar eclipse will be most visible in the Ningaloo region of Western Australia, a report in The Guardian said.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the sun’s light in some areas, according to Nasa. There are four types of solar eclipse: total, annular, partial, and hybrid.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, but when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth. As the moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the sun and does not completely cover it. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth but the sun, moon, and Earth are not perfectly lined up, according to Nasa.
A hybrid solar eclipse combines an annular and a total solar eclipse where the former becomes the latter and then usually reverts. As Earth's surface is curved, sometimes an eclipse can shift between annular and total as the Moon’s shadow moves across the globe, according to Nasa. Observers at different points in the path of the eclipse can experience different phenomena.
During an eclipse, it is important to protect your eyes from solar retinopathy – permanent eye damage caused by looking directly at the sun. According to experts, people should never look at the sun or an eclipse with the naked eye. Observers should use approved solar eclipse glasses that meet international safety standards.
The hybrid solar eclipse will, however, not be visible in India. People in Western Australia, East Timor and eastern Indonesia might be able to spot it at 7:06 am IST on 20 April, according to astronomy news website In the Sky. People living in other regions such as India can watch the eclipse on live streams on YouTube which will be telecasted by The Gravity Discovery Centre & Observatory, Australia and TimeandDate.com, the Space.com report added.