“Ring of fire” solar eclipse thrills skywatchers in Africa, Asia

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Nairobi (AFP)

Skywatchers along a narrow strip of west Africa from the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East attended Sunday, a spectacular “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

So-called annular eclipses occur when the Moon passing between the Earth and the Sun, is not quite close enough to our planet to completely hide the light of the sun, leaving a thin ring of the solar disk visible.

They occur every year or two, and can only been seen from a narrow path across the planet.

Sunday eclipse has happened on the northern hemisphere the longest day of the year, the summer solstice — when the Earth’s north pole is tilted most directly toward the Sun.

The “ring of fire” was first visible in the north-east of the democratic Republic of the Congo from 5:56 local time (04:56 GMT) a few minutes after the rising of the sun.

This is the point of the maximum of the duration of the power outage of a duration of 1 minute and 22 seconds.

Bow to the east, through Africa and Asia, it reaches maximum eclipse ” — with a perfect solar halo around the Moon — during the Uttarakhand, India, near the Sino-Indian border at 12:10 local time (0640 GMT).

More spectacular, but less long-term: the exact alignment of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun was visible for only 38 seconds.

In Nairobi, east Africa, the observers saw only a partial eclipse of the clouds blocked the sky for a few seconds at the precise moment when the Moon would have almost hidden the Sun.

Despite some disappointment Susan Murbana said to AFP: “It was very exciting because I think that I’m so obsessed with eclipses.

“Today has been very kind to us in terms of clouds. And we have been able to see more of this, ” said Murbana who set up the Voyage Telescope educational program with her husband Chu.

Without the coronavirus pandemic, they would have organized a trip to Lake Magadi, in southern Kenya, where the sky is generally clearer than on the capital.

“With the situation of a pandemic, we are not able to have the crowds… and bring the children to sail or do things,” she said, but still managed to share the event on social media.

“We had about 50 people join us via Zoom and then, we have so many people via our Facebook live. ”

The annular eclipse is visible from only about two percent of the Earth’s surface, Florent Delefie, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory, told AFP.

“It’s a bit like going from a 500 watt to 30 watt light bulb,” he added. “It is a cold light and you don’t see as well. ”

– The animals are frightened –

Animals can get frightened — the birds can sometimes go back to sleep, and the cows will be back at the barn.

The totality of the eclipse was visible at locations over a period of nearly four hours, and one of the last places to see the hidden part of the Sun was Taiwan.

People hundreds of kilometres (miles) of each side of the runway centerline, across 14 countries could also see the light drain from the day, but not the ” ring of fire “.

The weather conditions are critical for the display.

A solar eclipse always occurs approximately two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, when the Moon passes in the shadow of the Earth. Eclipses of the moon are visible from about half of the surface of the Earth.

There will be a second solar eclipse in 2020, the 14 December, on the South America. Because the Moon will be a little closer to the Earth, it blocks the light of the Sun fully.

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