A total solar eclipse occurs when Earth passes through the shadow cast by the Moon which either partially or fully blocks the Sun. The latter will occur tomorrow in parts of Chile and Argentina when skywatchers will be treated to complete darkness for just a few minutes. Brian Cox revealed during his series: “Wonders of the Solar System, why this event is so special.
During the filming of the 2010 BBC series, the English physicist was witness to India’s total solar eclipse a year earlier during a visit to Varanasi.
He said: “This is the one place in the Ganges River that you can bathe in the river and see the sunrise.
“It’s the only place where the Ganges turns around to the north.
“When the Sun rises tomorrow a truly extraordinary phenomenon all take place – a total eclipse of the Sun.
“It’s an auspicious occasion for a place that ancient Hindus knew as the Solar City.”
He went on to explain how scientists are able to predict future Solar eclipse and when the longest one will occur in the future.
He added: “Science is different to all the other systems of God and the belief systems in this city, because you don’t need faith in it, you can check that it works.
“So for example, I can tell you that tomorrow morning at precisely 6:24 am, the Moon will cover the face of the Sun and there will be a total solar eclipse.
“I can tell you that in 2904 there will be five solar eclipses on the Earth and I could tell you on July 1, 2186, there will be the longest solar eclipse for 5,000 years – seven minutes.”
Total eclipses are rare because the timing of the Moon within the eclipse season needs to be more exact for an alignment between the observer on Earth and the centre of both the Sun and the Moon.
In addition, the elliptical orbit of the Moon often takes it far enough away from Earth that its apparent size is not large enough to block the Sun entirely.
The revelation comes after Dr Cox revealed Saturn’s moon could be hiding alien life during his new documentary “The Planets”.
In 2005, NASA’s Cassini probe came within 30 miles of the surface of Enceladus, discovering water-rich plumes venting from the south polar region.
Scientists found cryovolcanoes shooting geyser-like jets of water vapour, molecular hydrogen, other volatiles, and solid material, including sodium chloride crystals and ice particles, into space.
Dr Cox revealed why this find stunned scientists.
He said earlier this month: “Cassini has given us a glimpse beneath the ice of Enceladus and it is genuinely fascinating in a scientific sense because many biologists believe that hydrothermal vents like those are almost certainly present on the floor of Enceladus and they were the cradle for life on Earth.
“All the ingredients are present, there’s hot water in touch with ice and minerals that’s a reactive caldron of chemistry.
“There are reactive gases – methane – and Cassini found molecular hydrogen in the plumes and that was one of the food sources of primitive organisms on Earth.
“So there really is a possibility there is life in orbit around Saturn today.”