Solar Eclipse Video Shows Sun Turning Into Pac-Man As Moon Covers It

A "ring of fire" solar eclipse captivated people around the Northern Hemisphere on Thursday, with one video captured in Maryland showing the sun looking like the video game character Pac-Man.

The solar eclipse was visible in its first location at 8:12 a.m. UTC and started in its final visible location at 11:33 a.m. UTC. It reached its peak at 10:41 a.m.

Some areas of Russia, Greenland and northern Canada were treated to the full "ring of fire" experience, or annular eclipse, where the moon obscures the sun and leaves just a sliver visible. People in some parts of the U.S., northern Asia and Europe will have seen a partial version instead.

That included Maryland, where a skywatcher named Israel Joffe filmed the phenomenon in North Bethesda at 5:50 a.m. local time. He shared the video on Twitter, alongside hashtags including "#PacMan," and described it as "incredible."

Joffe, a 41-year-old project manager from New York, told Newsweek he shot the video on the roof of his building.

"It was amazing. Much cooler than I expected. The clouds cleared up just in time," he said. "You saw the sun come up like a shark fin and it looked like Pac-Man for at least a half hour. A few folks also showed up on the roof to see the event and everyone was in awe."

Joffe was one of many Twitter users discussing the #SolarEclipse, causing the hashtag to trend on the social network on Thursday.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, creating a shadow above our planet. A solar eclipse is visible somewhere on Earth around every year and a half. In the 21st century there will be 224 solar eclipses, including six total eclipses in the 2020s.

During a total eclipse, as distinct from Thursday's annular eclipse, the moon completely blocks the sun from view on Earth.

The next annular eclipse will fall on October 14, 2023, and will be visible from parts of the Western U.S., Central America, Colombia and Brazil.

The next total eclipse will be visible from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean on December 4, 2021, followed by another visible from East Timor, Indonesia and Australia on April 20, 2023.

People in the U.S., Mexico and Canada will need to wait until 2024 for the next total eclipse.

Solar eclipses may seem like a relatively common phenomenon, but we earthlings are incredibly lucky to be able to witness them, because a number of condition need to coincide for them to happen.

For example, the moon is around 400 times smaller than the sun while also being 400 times closer to Earth than the sun.

As the moon continues moving away from the Earth by about 1.6 inches each year, total solar eclipses will no longer be seen from our planet in around 500 to 600 million years.

Update 6/10/21, 12:20 p.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments from Israel Joffe.

annular solar eclipse partial northeastern getty
A partial solar eclipse is seen as the sun rises behind Virginia's Capitol Building on June 10 in Arlington. Northeast states in the U.S. saw a rare eclipsed sunrise, while other parts of the Northern Hemisphere were treated to a so-called ring of fire. Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images