Moon to take bite out of the sun

A dark shadow is about to be thrown over much of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East in an annular partial eclipse.

Monday will see the Moon sweep across the face of the Sun, with a partial eclipse visible in London at 0848BST.

An annular eclipse is less spectacular than a total solar eclipse because the sky does not go completely black.

Some skywatchers should see a blazing ring of fire surround the Moon's disc. It passes Madrid at 08:56GMT and then runs through north and East Africa.

Once again, though, astronomers are urging those without the proper viewing equipment not to look directly at the Sun with the naked eye; blindness could result, reports BBC.

The path of annularity averages 118 miles/189 kilometers in width. After touching down in the open waters of the north Atlantic roughly a thousand miles east of Newfoundland, the path will head in an east-southeast direction, making landfall in northwestern Iberia, near to the border shared by Portugal and Spain.

The citizens of Vigo, Spain and Braga, Portugal will be among the first to see the ringed Sun, while Porto, Portugal finds itself just outside the southern limit of the path. Keep in mind however, that in Portugal, maximum eclipse comes at around 9:53 a.m. WEST (Western European Summer Time). Spain, however, follows CEST (Central European Summer Time), which runs an hour later, so clocks there will read 10:53 a.m.

Vacationers in Madrid on this day, will have the track of the so-called "negative shadow" or "anti-umbra" of the Moon passing directly over this metropolis of nearly four million resulting in the Sun mimicking a spectacular "ring of fire" for 4 minutes 11 seconds beginning at 10:56 a.m. CEST. Valencia, also within the track, will be treated to 3 minutes 38 seconds of annularity beginning just after 11:00 a.m. CEST.

The path then crosses the Mediterranean Sea, passing over Ibiza, the southwesternmost of the three Balearic Islands, and then sweeps south and east across northern and eastern Africa, affecting parts of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The path will come to an end over the central Indian Ocean. It is over central Sudan that the annular eclipse reaches its maximum: the apparent diameter of the Moon's disk appearing just 4.2 percent smaller than that of the Sun. Here, the duration of annularity will last 4 minutes 31.6 seconds, by information from the official web site.

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