Next year we’ll be able to witness a Hybrid Solar Eclipse, a phenomenon that rarely happens.
A hybrid solar eclipse is about to cross the skies in 2023 and has attracted the attention of cosmos lovers because it is an extremely rare astronomical phenomenon. It is likely that very few times you have heard of this term and that is because we can usually observe two or three eclipses per year, which are total, partial, or annular, but rarely hybrids. So what is a hybrid solar eclipse, and when will the next one occur?
What Is an Eclipse, and How Many Types Are There?
To better understand what a hybrid solar eclipse is, we must first learn more about what a solar eclipse is and what the three types are: total, partial, and annular.
We often think that solar eclipses are extraordinarily rare and although indeed, we can rarely admire them in their maximum splendor, the truth is that they occur at least twice a year. What prevents us from seeing them is our geographical position, since they are not observable in all parts of the globe.
Solar eclipses occur when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking the rays that reach us from the star. But in addition, certain characteristics must be met for this to happen, because otherwise, every month during the new moon, we would have a solar eclipse, and this does not happen.
First of all, the alignment between the three bodies must be perfect or almost perfect, remember that the lunar orbit is not perfectly round, so it does not always align perfectly with the Sun and the Earth. And another important element is the distance of the Moon from the Earth; the closer it is to us, the better it will be able to cover the Sun’s rays.
[Photo: Alan Dyer/VW Pics/UIG]
Parts of the Moon’s Shadow
The Moon, and anybody occluding a light source, casts a shadow that is divided into three parts: umbra, penumbra, and antumbra. For practical purposes, we will say that when the Earth enters the Moon’s umbra, we will observe a total eclipse. If it is positioned in the penumbra, a partial eclipse will occur, and finally, if our planet is inside the antumbra, the result is an annular eclipse.
The three types of solar eclipses are derived from this set of elements. A total eclipse occurs when the alignment is perfect and the Moon is at its perigee, so it completely covers the Sun. An annular solar eclipse, on the other hand, occurs when the natural satellite is perfectly aligned but is very close to its apogee, that is, farthest from the Earth possible, so it does not completely cover the Sun; consequently, on Earth, we see a solar ring.
Finally, the partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is at a critical distance from the Earth, such that the part of the lunar shadow known as antumbra, falls on the Earth’s surface. During this event, and from the Earth’s perspective, we observe a reddish crescent moon.
What is a Hybrid Solar Eclipse?
A hybrid solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon that occurs very rarely, the last one occurred in 2005, and the next one will be in April 2023. It is called ‘hybrid’ because it combines all types of eclipses, that is, during a hybrid solar eclipse, you can see a ring of fire (annular), the devil’s horns (partial), and complete darkness (total), all in the same event.
This happens for two reasons, the first is the position of the natural satellite so that it casts its shadow at a critical point on our planet, and the second is that our Earth is not flat and has a curvature. During a hybrid solar eclipse, the Moon positions its antumbra on the Earth’s surface just at the junction with the umbra, so that in its trajectory when it moves along the curvature of the planet, the Earth momentarily enters the umbra and also crosses the penumbra. The result is a hybrid solar eclipse where it is possible to see all states of the Sun’s rays eclipsed by the Moon.
When Exactly Will the Next Hybrid Solar Eclipse Be?
On April 20, 2023, a hybrid solar eclipse will be visible in the sky. Due to the position of the Earth, the eclipse will be visible only in the southern hemisphere, from the Exmouth Peninsula in Western Australia, Timor Lester, and as far as West Papua. However, there are always different ways to admire these astronomical events, through live transmissions from NASA and other observers around the world.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera