ליקוי חמה ירושלים
The solar eclipse as seen in Jerusalem
Photo: Reuters
Watching the eclipse in Jerusalem

'Ring of fire' solar eclipse brings out sky-watchers in Israel

Celestial phenomenon seen from most of Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia; at its peak in Israel, the moon hid approximately 32% of the sun in the north of the country and 40% in southernmost city of Eilat

Dr. Yigal Patel |
Published: 06.21.20 , 11:32
Israeli sky-watchers on Sunday morning were treated to a partial solar eclipse, with the Moon blocking out more than one third of the Sun across the country.
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  • During the eclipse’s peak, the Moon hid approximately 32% of the Sun in the north of Israel and 40% in the southernmost city of Eilat.
    ליקוי חמה ירושליםליקוי חמה ירושלים
    Watching the eclipse in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Reuters)
    An annular (Latin for ring-shaped) solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's disk is not big enough to cover the entire Sun, causing the Sun's outer edges to appear as a ring of fire in the sky.
    The eclipse occurred due to what is known as a "New Moon conjunction," when the Sun and Moon are aligned, with the Sun and Earth on opposite sides of the Moon.
    This tends to occur near the start of the Hebrew month, which is calculated using a lunar calendar (from new moon to new moon). The new Hebrew month of Tammuz begins on Tuesday.
    ליקוי חמה ירושליםליקוי חמה ירושלים
    The solar eclipse as seen in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Reuters)
    During a solar eclipse, the angular size (the size seen from the Earth) of the Moon and the Sun is almost identical. As such, on some occasions the Moon appears to cover the entire solar disk, known as full solar eclipse.
    On Sunday, however, the Earth is some two weeks away its furthest point from the Sun's orbit, making its angular size smaller than average. And since the Moon is also at its furthest orbit point from Earth, it was not "large" enough to cover the entire Sun, creating the ring of light around the shadow cast by the Moon.
    ליקוי חמה קניהליקוי חמה קניה
    The solar eclipse as seen in Kenya
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The eclipse was seen from most of the African continent, Central and Eastern Europe, most of Asia - including India and China and also Northern Australia. Its peak was in northern India, where the ring was most clearly visible.
    Since Israel is north of the eclipse's orbit, locals saw the Moon as being further south relative to the Sun, and so it only appeared to cover its southernmost part - roughly 35% of the surface.
    Sunday's eclipse took place on the same day as the the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice - the longest day of the year. This an extremely rare coincidence that will only happen once more in this century, in 2039.
    An annular solar eclipseAn annular solar eclipse
    An annular solar eclipse
    (Photo: NASA)
    As with all solar events, watching without proper aids can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, and even lead to blindness.

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