The transition of the heavenly bodies on one another’s surface is often termed as eclipse. Solar eclipse is an astronomical as well as a geographical phenomenon in which the moon, satellite of the Earth, comes in between the Earth and the Sun while revolving in its own path around the Earth and the Sun simultaneously. As a result, the shadow of moon falls on the Earth for that particular period and those places on Earth experience this dark shadow of moon and is termed as eclipse. It occurs only on a new moon day.
The length and duration of this shadow depends on the distance of moon from the Sun. If the moon is nearer to the Sun, then we experience in Partial Solar Eclipse ,i.e., the Sun is partially visible to us and partially covered by the moon. Another form of Partial Solar Eclipse, is Annular Solar Eclipse in which the moon covers the central part of the visible portion of Sun and we, on Earth experience a Diamond Ring or a dark circular object with burning flames coming out from its sides. When the moon is at a distance from the Sun and nearer to Earth, we experience Total Solar Eclipse.
The Partial Solar Eclipse occurs for a long time while Total solar Eclipse occurs for a short duration as the Earth is also revolving round the Sun in its own orbit.
On July 22,2009, we experienced the first Total Solar Eclipse of the 21st century which remained maximum for a period of 3.35minutes and on January 15,2010, we saw the first Annular solar eclipse of the longest duration of this century which lasted for about 3hours and 45 minutes.
There are some misconceptions related to Solar Eclipse. Many old-faith and blind believers believe that we experience the shadow as the Sun is being eaten up by a demon at this time for satisfying his revenge on the Sun. Interestingly, this type of blind belief is prevalent ,not only in India, but also in the Mediterranean, Rome and Mesopotamian civilizations Many people observe fasting during this period of eclipse and take a bath or a dip in the holy river, mainly Ganges and at Kurukshetra.,after the eclipse is over.
Scientifically, it has been proved that due to the shadow of moon falling on Earth and the untimely disappearance of Sunlight, many germs(bacteria and virus) attack on the food which, if consumed may disturb our digestive system and create other diseases. So, it is considered not to cook or consume any food and keep our stomach empty during this period.
The eclipse is proves to be helpful for geographers, astronomers, geologists, researchers, scientists and students for conducting research activities on astronomical phenomena, heavenly bodies,etc.
Watching the solar eclipse in a naked eye may prove fatal as the rays emerging from the periphery of the Sun may damage our eyes. So, some measures should be taken as using a telescope, using old photo-films, specially-designed glasses for the purpose,etc.