Watching the solar eclipse — with special eclipse glasses on, of course — could be a fun Christmas Day activity for the whole family.
If you weren't able to catch all the solar eclipses that took place earlier this year, now's your chance. On Christmas Day, the "third, final, and most dangerous" solar eclipse is set to occur, Forbes reports. It may not be as impressive or as large as previous solar eclipses, especially in comparison to the one that took place on August 21, 2017, but it will be quite dangerous. If you plan on watching the eclipse, it is best to keep a sturdy pair of solar eclipse sunglasses handy in order to avoid blinding yourself by mistake. If you're well-prepared, this could be a fun Christmas activity for the whole family.
That is if you don't live in North America. According to the Forbes report, the eclipse won't really be visible from this continent. The solar eclipse will begin at 3:43 am Universal Time on December 26 (that’s 22:43 pm EST and 19:43 pm PST on Christmas Day). Furthermore, the New Moon is slightly further away than usual, which means it will appear smaller in the sky. Consequently, it will only block a small chunk of the sun's disk at the center. That means if you're watching the eclipse, you're likely to see a ring around the sun. The eclipse is expected to last for a maximum of three minutes and 40 seconds.
Because of the way the solar eclipse will appear, it is referred to as the "ring of light" or "ring of fire." It will be visible at sunrise from the Middle East, in countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman. Additionally, viewers from South Asia and Southeast Asia will also be able to witness the astronomical phenomenon. If you're in southern India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, or Malaysia, you're likely to have a good view of the solar eclipse. The sun is expected to set as a "ring" east of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, with the moon blocking about 97 percent of the sun.
However, that does not mean it's safe to look at, at least with the naked eye. If you plan to watch the spectacle, you'll need a pair of special eclipse glasses. Moreover, should you plan to use telescopes or binoculars, you will need solar filters for the lenses so you don't damage them. But let's face it, very few people will actually travel to another part of the world in order to witness a solar eclipse. So if you're wondering when the next one will take place in North America, fret not. There is one set to occur in Canada in June 2021 and another in parts of the United States in October 2023. The grandest and most significant of them all will take place in April 2024. It will be visible from 12 states across the US. North American astronomy enthusiasts, it may be a long wait, but it'll sure be worth it!