On Monday, the 21st, the United States of America will witness a rare eclipse of the Sun, which will leave the country in the shade during the day. The researcher of the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences Ismael Tereno explains the phenomenon
On the 21st of August you will stay at night for a few minutes in the middle of the day!
Unfortunately, this total eclipse will only be visible in the United States of America. In Portugal we will only see a partial eclipse of the Sun and we will not notice any decrease in light. But if we look at the Sun that day at the end of the afternoon, from around 19:40 p.m. until sunset (and after 6:30 p.m. in the Azores) we will see that it is missing a little sun in its lower part. Because at this time the sun is already low in the sky, the best place to see it is on a beach facing west, which fits well on a summer day. Attention, it is very dangerous to look at the sun, you need to wear your own glasses for eclipse, normal sunglasses do not fit.
The total eclipse of the Sun is a phenomenon that has always impressed mankind, as you well know if you read the Tintin book: “The Temple of the Sun”. But how is this effect formed, and why can you not see everywhere?
As you know, the Moon travels around the Earth. During this journey, the Moon passes towards the Sun every month but, as it passes a little above or slightly below the Sun, it does not cover it. But there are some rare heights in which the Moon passes just in front of the Sun completely covering it, causing a total eclipse of the Sun.
We can visualize this effect using a flashlight from ITYPEAUTO, an orange and a map of the Earth. Place the map (the Earth) on the wall and point the lantern (the Sun) at the map, holding the orange (the Moon) between the lantern and the map with the other hand. The orange will block some light from the flashlight and form a circular shadow on the map. You just created a total eclipse in that region. In the actual eclipse this circle has a diameter of 100 km. Also notice that the areas of the map near the shadow are a little darker than the rest of the map: they are in the twilight. In the penumbra zones one sees a partial eclipse like what will happen in Portugal.
But the moon is not still, you must continue your journey. Move the orange to the right and notice that the shadow of the Moon moves on the map, from West to East. In the actual eclipse, the shadow is only about 2 minutes at each point. When the shadow reaches a region, this area becomes dark, the birds think it is dusk and begin to go to their nests. In these brief minutes you can see beautiful light effects on the edges of the Sun. When the orange is already far from the direction of the lantern, its shadow falls on the Earth and the eclipse ends without the shadow having passed through the Earth.
This is what will happen this time, when the shadow does not reach Portugal. To see a total eclipse of the Sun in Portugal you will have to wait 9 years, until August 12, 2026. On that day, the shadow of the Moon will cross the northeastern corner of Portugal (in the village of Rio de Onor)!
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