Dark Sun Arising

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By Vincent Tan

Look out! A solar eclipse is on the horizon (literally). On March 9th, from 720am-930am, the moon will ascend and cover about 90% of the sun, resulting in a partial eclipse over Singapore. Like a spotlight of darkness, the lunar shadow would prolong the early morning gloom. Although a solar eclipse happens somewhere in the world every 18 months, the moon’s shadow is expected over Singapore only 146 times between 1700 and 2100, making this a rare local event.

The phenomenon will be visible from any point in Singapore that offers an open view of the eastern horizon, at a compass heading of 94 degrees. Watching the eclipse with the naked eye or in reflective surfaces should be avoided as it can cause severe and irreversible eye damage in a matter of seconds. However, the eclipse can be viewed safely through a pair of solar filters or using a homemade pinhole projector. If you’re recording the event, be sure to protect your camera lens with a solar filter too, as the concentrated sunlight may heat it and cause cracks.

 

For a safe group viewing of the eclipse on March 9th, you can meet the thousands who are expected to be at the free Science Centre event at 7.30am, or join the Astronomical Society of Singapore at Labrador Park’s Red Beacon area at 7am.
If you’re a sleepy head and may oversleep past this early morning event, don’t feel bummed out as you can still catch a lunar eclipse happening two weeks later on March 23rd. In case for some reason you missed both of them, well, just wait for the next solar eclipse on Dec 26, 2019 which promises to be even more spectacular, as the sun and moon perfectly align creating a corona of fire around the moon – a sight not to be missed.

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