A few seconds heavenly spectacle, and then it was gone – the last solar eclipse of the millennium. It had been witnessed by millions around the world.
The moon 1/400th the size of the sun, and 400 times closer to the earth than the sun, has the same size as the sun when viewed from the planet Earth. Thus, when the moon comes in-between the sun and the earth a ‘Solar Eclipse’ results.
Eclipses for Muslims
Muslims recognize that everything in the heavens and on earth is created and sustained by the Lord of the universe, Allah Almighty. Throughout the Qur’an, people are encouraged to look around them, observe and reflect on the beauties and wonders of the natural world – as signs of Allah’s majesty.
“Allah is He, who created the sun, the moon, and the stars — (all) governed by laws under His commandment.” Qur’an 7:54
“It is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon. All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its orbit.” Qur’an 21:33
“The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed.” Qur’an 55:05
In remembrance and gratefulness for all of His favors, Muslims all over the world bow down in prayer five times each day. At a time of a solar or lunar eclipse, there is a recommended prayer (salatul-kusuf) that is performed by the Muslim community in congregation.
Eclipses during Prophet’s time
During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), there was a solar eclipse on the day that his son Ibrahim died. Some superstitious people said that the sun eclipsed because of the young child’s death and the Prophet’s sadness on that day. The Prophet corrected their understanding:
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba: On the day of Ibrahim’s death, the sun eclipsed and the people said that the eclipse was due to the death of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet).
Allah’s Apostle said, “The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. They do not eclipse because of someone’s death or life. So when you see them, invoke Allah and pray till the eclipse is clear.”
On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.
Who Can See It?
Lots of people! Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states.
Image Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
This map shows the globe view of the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.
What is It?
This celestial event is a solar eclipse in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location. For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.
Diagram showing the Earth-sun-moon geometry of a total solar eclipse. Not to scale: If drawn to scale, the Moon would be 30 Earth diameters away. The sun would be 400 times that distance.
Where Can You See It?
You can see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers only a part of the sun, anywhere in North America (see “Who can see it?”). To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East. The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT. Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT. From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT. Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.
A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.
When Can You See It?
Times for partial and total phases of the eclipse vary depending on your location. This interactive eclipse map(link is external) will show you times for the partial and total eclipse anywhere in the world.
How Can You See It?
You never want to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection except during totality. That could severely hurt your eyes. However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen. Both methods should produce clear images of the partial phase of an eclipse.
Check with local science museums, schools and astronomy clubs for eclipse glasses—or purchase an ISO 12312-2 compliant pair of these special shades!
This list describes when to wear your glasses and when you can safely look at the eclipse, only during totality!
Sun watchers gather around telescopes fitted with white light solar filters.
Image Credit: NASA Kepler Mission