Sunday’s annular solar eclipse turned out to be quite a spectacle as hundreds of thousands of people across South America and Southern Africa gazed at the sky through protective eye-wear and/or specialised equipment.
The first solar eclipse of 2017 was highly awaited for it promised a spectacle that would impress astronomers, space enthusiasts and members of the general public alike. While the eclipse wasn’t viewable from across the globe and was limited to a narrow 100-km band across South America and parts of Africa, it was viewed by million across the world through observatory feeds and YouTube live webcasts.
Starting off shortly after 1200 GMT from South America and following course to make it to Africa, the solar eclipse treated stargazers with a ‘ring of fire’ view that is the uniqueness of annular eclipse.
Take a peek at social network feeds and you will find images and videos by the hundreds captured by people having thronged to watch the celestial spectacle, gazing at the sky through special telescopes, protective glasses or homemade cardboard pinhole devices, as they watched the Sun all but disappear briefly as the Moon crossed its path.
As predicted, the annular eclipse was most visible in a 100-kilometre band across Chile, Argentina, Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Those located in the middle of the eclipse’s path were able to witness a rare ‘ring of fire’.
Astronomers and stargazers who make it a point to view the eclipse every time it happens note that every time this solar phenomenon happens, it is unique and offers an experience that is different from all previous ones. This year’s eclipse was also special because people were able to clearly see Baily’s Beads – a string of points of light produced as the sun’s beams break through peaks on the moon’s surface.
By 1515 GMT the eclipse reached Angola south of the town of Benguela after which it made its way to Zambia and DR Congo just before the Sun sets and the light show ends.
When the sun was covered about 90 per cent there was a distinct drop in temperature and brightness and a drastic change in the quality of light never seen during day time. The drop in brightness even ends up affecting the routine of birds and animals as they believe that it’s night time and think sunset is near.