Solar eclipse - AP - Nov. 24, 2003
A photo of first total solar eclipse recorded on Antarctica on Nov. 24, 2003. Photo by AP
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A partial solar eclipse will be seen today in Israel and in much of Europe, North Africa and central Asia. In central Israel, the eclipse will be at its fullest at 10:41 A.M., when the moon will have covered 46 percent of the face of the sun and 57 percent of its diameter.

The eclipse will peak two minutes earlier in Eilat, and three minutes later in Metula in the north. Overall, the process will last for three hours, from 9:10 A.M. to 12:15 P.M. The most impressive display will be seen in Scandinavian countries, where the moon will obscure 85% of the face of the sun.

Looking at the eclipse directly, whether with the naked eye, through telescopes or through binoculars, is extremely dangerous, and can cause permanent damage to the eye and even blindness. The director of the Weitzmann Institute's space observatory, Ilan Manolis, also warned against improvised gadgets like smoked glass and film.

"You can use welder goggles rated 14, which you can find in hardware stores, or special eclipse glasses," said Manolis. Eclipse glasses can be bought at the Givatayim observatory, the Barkat observatory in Maccabim or from the Cosmos company.

The eclipse may also be observed by projecting the sun on a wall or another surface through a small hole in a paper, similar to a camera obscura, or by looking at the shades cast by some of trees.

Unlike a partial eclipse, a full eclipse is only visible in a thin strip of our planet, and darkens the sky so much other planets can be seen during the day, as well as the sun's corona. A partial eclipse can be observed from many more locations at once. Organized viewings will take place in a number of locations across the country, with the Israeli Astronomy Association holding a viewing at the Givatayim observatory from 9 A.M. until noon. The viewing will be accompanied by "eclipse hunter," Prof. Jay Pasachoff from Williams College in the United States. The Astronomy Club of the Tel Aviv University will also hold a viewing from the plaza in front of the Shenkar - Physics building, from 09:30 to 11:30 in the morning. In the south, the Ilan Ramon center will set up an observation point in front of the Student Union building at Ben-Gurion University. The Astronomy Association and the Ilan Ramon Center will both broadcast the eclipse from their websites.

The weather won't be at its best for the occasion, as MeteoTech forecasters said the north will be overcast, the coastal plain will be partly cloudy to cloudy, and only the south will see some sunshine.