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Total Solar Eclipse 2020: All you need to know

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New Delhi, Dec 14: Surya Grahan, the last solar eclipse of 2020, that the world is waiting for is set to take place on December 14 (Monday). The celestial event will not be visible in India due to the fact that the eclipse won't be taking place during the day time.

Representational Image

A total solar eclipse will pass over Chile and Argentina on Dec. 14 - meaning that the Moon will line up just right between the Sun and Earth, casting its shadow on Earth's surface.

Last Solar Eclipse 2020: Time

As per the Indian timings, the solar eclipse will take place on 14 December 2020 at 07:03 pm. The eclipse will end completely at 12:23 am on 15 December 2020 while the eclipse will be at its max at 09:43 pm on 14 December 2020. The longest possible duration of totality would be 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

Surya Grahan 2020: What NOT to do during December 14 solar eclipse

What is a solar eclipse?

For those unaware, a solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly blocking the Sun.

The celestial event can be divided into three categories - total, partial and annular. During the partial eclipse, the moon covers a part of the Sun and makes the leftover Sun visible.

In a total solar eclipse, the moon comes between the sun and earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow called the umbra on earth.

While an annular solar eclipse takes place when the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than that of the Sun's and blocks most of the Sun's light.

Surya Grahan 2020: How often does a solar eclipse happen? When is the next one?

When the total solar eclipse takes place on December 14, skywatchers are advised to use safe viewing equipment and proper techniques to view the celestial event as the infrared and ultraviolet rays of the Sun can cause severe retinal damage.

Myths!

Eclipses have been a source of anxiety for people everywhere and have even scared them. It may be common to feel anxious when you first observe an eclipse, to see the sun disappear and that too not because of clouds.

What did Eclipse mean to different cultures?

Most cultures viewed it as a period during which the sun or the moon is being attacked by an animal or a demon. Vikings, Koreans, Vietnamese, Chinese and many others imagined an animal eating the sun and excreting the sun from the other end. They used to think that there is a great animal in the sky. To threaten the animal, people even pelted stones at animals on earth, made noises, used drums to scare the demons run away.

Eskimos turned their utensils upside down to prevent bad influences from falling into their cooking. West Africans gathered in open spaces to urge the shadow to leave the sun.

American Indians thought the sun lost some of its power and hence sent burning arrows in the direction of the sun to rekindle it.

In Egypt, the King, a representative of the Sun made rounds of the city to assure people. Babylonians, Greeks, Romans considered it an omen and the month of eclipse was considered important.

Armenians thought the sun was invaded by a black planet. Japanese lit fires and displayed shiny jewels to compensate for the dulling of the sun.

A few, like Maoris of Assam considered eclipse as a good omen, means an imminent victory over their enemies, while most people around the world believed it a bad omen. There are also evidences that at around 585 BC, an eclipse predicted earlier, occurred during a war between the Medians and the Lydians. They called off the war and declared peace.

Surya Grahan: When and Where to Watch Last Solar Eclipse of 2020

Conventional Indian Myths: The occurrence of eclipse is mentioned in Samudra Manthan - the churning of ocean by the Gods and the asuras. It occurred when the Gods and the Asuras wanted to be immortal by consuming nectar that is available under the sea, the sea had to be churned. Since neither of them had the power they came together to churn the sea.

However, when the nectar finally comes out the gods cheat, by sending a beautiful woman Mohini to distract the Asuras. Mohini distributes the Amrit among the gods, but one Asura, Rahu realises the trickery joins the gods and drinks the nectar. But before he consumed it, the sun and the moon realised and cut his head.

As it was not quick enough - the head and body of the Rahu survived. Now people believe that forever revengeful Rahu tries to eat them up but since he is disembodied it comes through the other end as he gulps them down on eclipses.

It was in 499 AD Aryabhata realised that eclipse is all shadow and that there are no demons involved. He reinvented the idea that Rahu and Ketu are just points in the sky and hence they are two dark planets that cause eclipse.

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