A hybrid solar eclipse is a very rare and strange astronomical event – and there is one coming soon on April 20, 2023.
Talk to most eclipse hunters and they will tell you that there are three types of solar eclipse. The first is a partial eclipse, one of the most common and least impressive because the moon just blocks part of the Sun casting a shadow – the penumbra – on a strip of Earth. The second is an annular solar eclipse, where the moon blocks the center of the sun, but leaves a circle of sunlight visible from within a shadow called the antumbra. It is often called a “ring of fire”. The third is a total solar eclipse where the entire solar disk is blocked by the moon, revealing the spectacular view of the solar corona, which can be seen with the naked eye from the dark shadow of the moon, the shadow .
However, there is an intriguing fourth type of solar eclipse – a hybrid solar eclipse – which only occurs a few times per century. It’s a combination of the other three types, but it’s also impossible to experience it in all its glory. Luckily, the next solar eclipse occur on Earth will be a hybrid solar eclipse. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming hybrid solar eclipse – the rarest, most intriguing, and arguably the most spectacular and interesting type of solar eclipse in the world.
Related: Solar eclipses 2023: when, where and how to see them
WHAT IS A HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE?
A hybrid solar eclipse combines an annular and total solar eclipse where the first becomes the second and then usually goes back. Therefore, observers at different points in the path of the eclipse may experience different phenomena. For example, if you watch a hybrid solar eclipse at sunrise or sunset, you may see a brief “ring of fire”. If you look at it at noon – halfway through the eclipse’s path across the Earth’s surface – you will experience totality. It is therefore impossible to experience both an annular eclipse and a total solar eclipse in a hybrid event — a choice must be made.
Remember to NEVER look into the sun without proper protection. Our how to observe the sun safely guide tells you everything you need to know about safe solar sightings. The guide also tells you about the sun targets you can search for and the equipment needed to do so.
If you want to prepare everything to see a solar eclipse, we have guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography. Our guide on how to photograph a solar eclipse will also help you plan your next solar-viewing adventure.
WHY DO HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSES OCCUR?
Hybrid solar eclipses occur when the moon’s distance is close to its limit for the umbral shadow to reach Earth and because The earth is curved (opens in a new tab). The moon is just the right distance from Earth so that the top of its cone-shaped shadow is slightly above the Earth’s surface at the start and end of the eclipse’s path, causing the moon to shift. the moon’s antumbral shadow on Earth, causing an annular solar eclipse. However, in the middle of the eclipse’s path, the top of the moon’s umbral shadow hits the Earth’s surface because that part of the planet is slightly closer to the moon.
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This diagram of a hybrid solar eclipse shows how the Moon’s distance from Earth determines the shadow cast on the Earth’s surface, from the faint penumbra of a partial solar eclipse to the deep, dark shadow of totality. and to the antumbra – a kind of half shade — annularity.
WHEN IS THE NEXT HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE?
The next hybrid solar eclipse will occur on April 20, 2023 in the Southern Hemisphere. It will change from annular to total and back again at two specific points, but both are at distant locations at sea.
So for all intents and purposes this will be exclusively experienced as a total solar eclipse from the Exmouth Peninsula in Western Australia (up to 1 minute), Timor Leste (1 minute 14 seconds) and West Papua (1 minute 9 seconds). Just before and just after totality, a large screen of Baily’s Pearls will be visible.
If you want to see the path of the eclipse, as well as the eclipse timings for each location, check out this interactive eclipse map by Xavier Jubier (opens in a new tab). It is one of two solar eclipses in 2023.
WHAT ARE BAILY PEARLS?
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Named after English astronomer Francis Baily, who observed them in the early 1800s, Baily’s Pearls are the last rays of sunlight that can be seen crossing the valleys of the moon just before totality. They can also be considered as endings of totality. During a hybrid solar eclipse, displays of Baily’s beads are longer because the moon is almost exactly the same apparent size as the sun.
HOW OFTEN DOES A HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE OCCUR?
There are between two and five solar eclipses each year, although in the 21st century only 3.1% (opens in a new tab) (7 of 224) solar eclipses are hybrid solar eclipses. Between 2000 BCE and 3000 CE only 4.8% (opens in a new tab) solar eclipses are hybrid events.
The last hybrid solar eclipse to occur was on November 3, 2013. It was visible as a total solar eclipse in central Africa, including northern Kenya and Uganda, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cruise ships in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean also experienced totality, up to a minute.
WHAT IS ANOTHER NAME FOR A HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE?
Hybrid solar eclipses are often called total annular eclipses, “beaded” solar eclipses, or “broken” annular eclipses, the latter two because they feature particularly long displays of Baily’s pearls.
Because the moon appears to pass directly in front of the sun, hybrid solar eclipses are classified as “central” solar eclipses – just like total and annular solar eclipses – to differentiate them from partial solar eclipses.
Editor’s note: If you take a great photo of a solar eclipse and want to share it with Space.com readers, send your photo(s), comments, and name and location to email@example.com
Jamie Carter is the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com (opens in a new tab)
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Explore the different types of solar eclipses in more detail with this information. NASA article (opens in a new tab). Texas State University (opens in a new tab) has a helpful list of several videos explaining the different types of eclipses.
Bikos, K. (2022, November 13). What is a hybrid solar eclipse? Retrieved November 13, 2022, from https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/hybrid-solar-eclipse.html (opens in a new tab)
Espenak, F. (2007, February 13). Five Millenium Catalog of Hybrid Solar Eclipses. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEcat5/SEhybrid5.html (opens in a new tab)
Jubier, X. (2022, November 13). Five Millennia (-1999 to +3000) Solar Eclipse Database Canon. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/5MCSE/xSE_Five_Millennium_Canon.html (opens in a new tab)
Nemiroff, R. and Bonnell, J. (November 3, 2013). Astronomical photo of the day. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131103.html (opens in a new tab)
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