Friday, January 15, 2010

Solar Eclipse over Israel

I don't usually get out early in the morning, but today I popped out of bed to race over to join other Efratians to "watch" the solar eclipse. The sky was colored with a bit of a brown tint today. (Did you notice it?) And I was very excited to "see" this amazing phenomenon. Well, you can't really see it, because you're not allowed to look directly at the sun. It can seriously damage your eyesight. I didn't look up, but I got the feel of the eclipse nonetheless.
Between 14-25% of the sun was covered this morning, and we got a vivid look through special viewers and the old-fashioned way, as a reflection on white paper.
The solar adventure was led by Efrat's own astronomer Tom Rosenfeld, .
Tom explained to the dozen or so lucky folk present how the moon passes in front of the sun every month. That's the molad and that's when we have Rosh Chodesh. Usually the moon is a little more south of the sun, and so there's no eclipse, but sometimes, it partially or fully blocks the sun. Tom said that there are total eclipses (where the moon passes directly in front of the sun) every month, but usually they're over water or in some remote place.
Total eclipses are very rare in places where folks can actually see them. In fact, fellow Efratian Paul Shindman told me that people travel all over the world to see total eclipses. Cool.
When I got home all enthused about the eclipse, my husband and publisher Israel Katz told me that he knew all about the partial and total eclipses because of his Takachinsky Calendar of Eretz Yisrael (which has been printed for the past 150 years). Tachachinsky said that there will be "a total eclipse of the sun on Friday, 29 Tevet, in Africa: the Congo, Uganda and Kenya, on Southern tip of India and over the southeastern part of China." He also said that in Israel, we would be able to see portions of it from 7:15 AM to 9:10 AM. Correct!
Parents brought their children to witness the event, and passersby picked up viewers to get a peek at the sun and the moon's short pas-de-deux.
Anyone who's ever witnessed an eclipse told about their experiences, and it was a pretty interesting morning.
Thanks to Tom Rosenfeld and his wife, Sue, , for letting us know about this event and making it so meaningful.
I made a video of today's Solar Eclipse over Israel. See it here on VoicesTV . Chodesh tov.

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