A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes directly between the Sun and the Earth, producing a shadow on the Earth’s surface where the Sun is completely or partially obscured. Solar eclipses are rare because the moon seldom comes in the direct path between the Earth and the Sun.
The solar eclipse of 15th January, 2010 will be the century’s longest eclipse, having a totality duration of 11 minutes, 8 seconds (visible in India for 10 minutes, 24 seconds). It starts at 10:44 AM IST (5:14 AM GMT) and ends at 2:29 PM IST (8:59 AM GMT). This is an annular eclipse, that is the apparent diameter of the Moon is slightly smaller than the apparent size of the Sun. Thus at totality (when the entire disc of the Moon covers the Sun), the Sun forms a bright ring (or annulus, hence the name) around the Moon.
The eclipse can be best seen in India in the town of Dhanushkodi at the southern tip of Rameshwaram. It is reachable by fish boats or 4×4 SUVs.
Here is how the eclipse will look at totality near Dhanushkodi:
Following this are the scenes of maxima in the major cities of India:
Word of warning: Do NOT stare at the eclipse (or the Sun, for that matter) with naked eyes or through run-of-the-mill sunglasses. Your eyes will be put at risk. An even louder word of warning: do NOT look at the eclipse with unshielded binoculars or telescopes. You will definitely burn your eyes if you do that. Please wear adequate protection. Specially designed solar eclipse goggles are available which will protect your eyes from the brightness of the Sun.