A fact-sheet from wikipedia....
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth so that the Sun is fully or partially covered. This can only happen during a new moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth.
There are four types of solar eclipses:
A total eclipse occurs when the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon. The intensely bright disk of the Sun is replaced by the dark silhouette of the Moon, and the much fainter corona is visible. During any one eclipse, totality is visible only from at most a narrow track on the surface of the Earth.
An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the outline of the Moon.
A hybrid eclipse (also called annular/total eclipse) transitions between a total and annular eclipse. At some points on the surface of the Earth it is visible as a total eclipse, whereas at others it is annular. Hybrid eclipses are comparatively rare.
A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are not exactly in line and the Moon only partially obscures the Sun. This phenomenon can usually be seen from a large part of the Earth outside of the track of an annular or total eclipse. However, some eclipses can only be seen as a partial eclipse, because the umbra never intersects the Earth's surface.
"This is a rare phenomenon and holds a key to a lot of secrets of the Sun which otherwise remains elusive for scientists. This is only a shadow of the moon on the earth when the three align in space with the moon in between. There is no scientific basis for all the myths and superstitions protected in our society by some religious rites," said Dr Ravinderjeet Singh, educator and programmer at the Nehru Planetarium in the city.
Amid substantial fear prevailing among credulous public after what some astrologers have described it as a situation full of bad omen with potential to leave harmful effects on humankind, there are some people with scientific outlook who are creating awareness asking people to go out and witness the phenomenon.
Tarksheel Society Punjab is spreading the awareness that the longest total solar eclipse till now should be seen as an opportunity and not as a curse.
Providing technical help and knowledge from the field of astronomy, Dr Ravinderjeet who has a PhD in astrophysics, said people should come out and witness the event with no fear as there is no scientific basis supporting such myths.
"The rays of the sun on the day and at the time of the eclipse are the same as on other days," he educates.
Some misconceptions and myths that are still believed...
Food becomes poisonous and contaminated during a solar eclipse
Pregnant women can miscarry or give birth to deformed babies
Solar eclipse denotes bad time....or bad Karma....or cause death of some leader....
Let us outgrow these superstitions....and marvel at this great celestial drama !!!
(Taking specific precautions as guided by scientists and astronomy experts...if we want to view the spectacle !)