JANUARY 22 2009
(STAR) By Helen Flores - Astronomy enthusiasts in the country can watch out for the first of two solar eclipses of 2009 this January, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

According to Pagasa, an annular solar eclipse will take place on Jan. 26, Monday, wherein the moon will cover the Sun, but its umbral or darker shadow will not reach the Earth, and only its penumbral or lighter shadow will.

“In Metro Manila, it can be observed starting 4:55 p.m. (Philippine Standard Time or PST), maximum eclipse at 5:51 p.m. (PST),” Pagasa said in its monthly astronomical diary.

An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when one celestial object moves into the shadow of another.

According to the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon’s antumbral shadow crosses the Earth.

NASA said the first contact starts at 2:02 p.m. (PST) in the South Atlantic when the Moon’s antumbral shadow meets Earth and forms a 363 kilometer-wide corridor.

The annularity, or the greatest eclipse, occurs at 3:58 p.m. (PST) when the eclipse magnitude reaches 0.9282. Eclipse magnitude refers to the fraction of the Sun’s diameter silhouetted by the Moon, NASA said.

The annularity will last for seven minutes and 54 seconds with a path width of 280 kilometers; and the Sun at 73 degrees above the flat horizon formed by the open ocean, where most of this eclipse takes place, it said.

The central track will continue heading northeast where it finally reaches the Cocos Islands, and onward to southern Sumatra and western Java, or the northwestern edge of Celebes. It actually ends before reaching Mindanao, but can still be seen throughout the country, NASA said.

In Metro Manila, the greatest eclipse can be seen at magnitude of 0.625 at 5:51 p.m.

According to reports, a partial eclipse would be seen from the southern third of Africa, Madagascar, Australia (except Tasmania), southeast India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

An eclipse of the Sun can only occur at New Moon when the Moon passes between Earth and Sun. If the Moon’s shadow happens to fall upon Earth’s surface at that time, some portions of the Sun’s disk covered or eclipsed by the Moon are visible to the Earth.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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