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Solar Eclipse July 22, 2009

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On Wednesday, 2009 July 22, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses half of Earth which includes most of eastern Asia, and the Pacific Ocean. The total solar eclipse of 22nd of July 2009 will be the longest eclipse of the 21st Century being 6 minutes 38 seconds at the point of maximum eclipse. The occurrences of total solar eclipses are still important, not withstanding the invention of coronagraph in 1930 and number of space instruments launched in space to make the observations of solar corona in EUV, soft X-ray and low resolution broad band images. The total solar eclipses provide minimum of scattered light about 1000 times less than that in the coronagraphs. Also observations can be made with high spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions as compared to those of space base instruments because large and heavy equipment can be used in ground base observations.

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The temperature in the solar corona rises to million degrees from about 5700 degrees at the photospheric level. Some models have been proposed to explain the heating of solar corona but the existing models are unable to explain all the physical and dynamical properties of the solar corona. It has been recognized that magnetic fields play an important role in heating up the plasma in the solar corona but identification of the process or processes still remains an open question. It has been proposed that occurrence of micro or nano flares at the surface of the sun can create shock waves and contribute to the heating of solar corona but some have argued that these waves get dissipated in the chromosphere itself and cannot reach the corona. The existence of fast or slow mode magneto-hydrodynamic waves in the solar corona is expected to cause intensity and velocity oscillations in the solar corona in the range of 1 Hz and lower frequencies. Many attempts have been made to detect these oscillations but the results are contradictory. A large number of small-scale reconnections have also been proposed to explain the heating of solar corona. Another way to heat the solar corona is to generate waves through turbulence (acousting waves). The existence of non-thermal motion in the solar corona and its variation with height has also been interpreted to cause heating of the plasma in the solar corona.

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The total solar eclipse will be of longest duration during this century. It will be visible in India, some of the Japanese islands, China and Pacific Ocean. The eclipse begins with the sunrise in the western part of India, travels to eastern part of India, crosses to Myna-mar (Burma), small islands of Japan and China. In India Surat, Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Varanasi and Patna are some of the cities lie close to the central part of the totality. In China duration of the totality will be about 5 minutes. In India altitude of the sun will be about 15 degrees in the eastern part at the time of total eclipse and this period is full of rains due to South West monsoon.

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Imaging of the solar corona has the advantages of providing the information over two dimensional region of the solar corona but it may have the small uncertainty of in the data due to variations in the sky transparency. On the other hand spectroscopy provides data only on the small portion of the solar corona but with spectral purity and is possible to account for the variations in the sky transparency. Line profiles can also yield information about the temperature and non-thermal structure of the solar corona.

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