Solar eclipse delights viewers in Africa, Europe, US


Tue, Nov 05, 2013 - Page 6

Africans were treated on Sunday to a rare hybrid solar eclipse that swept across the continent, while sky-gazers in the US and Europe also glimpsed the rare phenomenon.

A total eclipse could be seen over parts of Africa and one of the best views was in northern Kenya’s Sibiloi National Park, where a few hundred tourists gathered on the edge of the desert lake Turkana.

Alongside the tourists were colorfully dressed Kenyans from the Turkana, Rendile and Dasanach tribes, many draped in beads, who cheered as the sky darkened.

However, dramatic weather almost spoiled the show, with sandstorms, rain and heavy clouds all appearing minutes before the eclipse, a photographer said.

Some tourists, fearing they would miss the sight, jetted off at the last minute, seeking a clearer spot on other side of lake.

In the end, the eclipse, which lasted about 10 seconds in Kenya, was partially obscured by clouds. Sky-gazers in Gabon, Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia were also treated to the total eclipse.

“I saw a black disc progressively cover the sun. It’s magnificent,” said Clarence Diledou from Gabon. “But unfortunately, the bad weather spoiled the party a bit.”

The west African nation got peak viewing of the total eclipse as it swept over a path nearly 60km wide.

In Port-Gentil, Gabon, families gathered together for the occasion along the sea front, facing the sun.

Like many in the town, Diledou used special glasses distributed by authorities to watch the rare event.

Those who did not have any came up with imaginative solutions, among them Pauline Koumba, who put a bowl of water in her courtyard and watched the reflected eclipse.

“I saw the brief passage of the eclipse in my bowl, but it was over quickly and the black clouds spoiled the effect,” she said.

Families also gathered in Gabon’s capital, Libreville, where the eclipse was less spectacular, but where the skies darkened noticeably for about half-an-hour.

In the eastern US, viewers caught sight of a partial eclipse lasting 45 minutes close to sunrise.

Partial views were also available in southern European countries Spain, Italy and Greece, and also in Iraq.

The round shape of the Earth explains why viewers in Africa saw a total eclipse, while those in the US and Europe only saw the sun partly obscured.