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Rare eclipse of the sun in Uganda tomorrow

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th January 2010 03:00 AM

THERE will be an annular eclipse of the sun in Kampala and other parts of the country on Friday morning, according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA. The eclipse will only dim but not totally darken the sky.

THERE will be an annular eclipse of the sun in Kampala and other parts of the country on Friday morning, according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA. The eclipse will only dim but not totally darken the sky.

By Lydia Namubiru

THERE will be an annular eclipse of the sun in Kampala and other parts of the country on Friday morning, according to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA.

In the eclipse, the moon will throw its shadow onto the sun covering its middle part but leaving an outer ring. Viewed from here, the sun will appear like a ring of fire and the moon like a circular dark patch in the sun.

The eclipse will only dim but not totally darken the sky.

The NASA website says the eclipse will start in central Africa at dawn and then move east, through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.

After leaving Africa, it will cross the Indian Ocean. The central path then continues into Asia through Bangladesh, India, Burma and China. In Kampala, the first appearance of the moon on the sun’s face, called 'first contact’, will occur at about 7:05am, when the sun will be at the touchline of the horizon. As the sun continues to rise, more of the moon’s shadow will become visible. Mid-eclipse will be at 8:21am, with the sun at 18 degrees above the horizon. This is when watchers will be able to see the full ring of fire.

This period of maximum eclipse is expected to last seven minutes. The eclipse ends at 10:04am with the sun at 40 degrees above the horizon.

Other areas of the country, including Arua, Luwero and Wobulenzi, will witness the same phenomenon within a few minutes of the Kampala time.
The approximately 300km wide track within all stages of the eclipse will be running diagonally through the country from as far north as Arua down through Katakwi into western Kenya.

In the south, it enters the country through Lake Edward, running southwards into Lake Victoria.

All areas between these two lines will witness all the progression of the eclipse from the partial stage to the maximum eclipse and back into partial eclipse. Other areas of the country will see a partial eclipse.

Astronomy websites warn that it will not be safe to directly look at the sun with the naked eye as this will lead to burning of the retina and loss of visual functioning.

Even sunglasses, binoculars and telescopes will be unsafe to view the eclipse. For safe observation, enthusiasts are advised to project the image of the eclipse onto a white screen using a pinhole camera or binoculars. The white screen could be a piece of paper, a wall or a cloth.

To make a pinhole camera, one needs to make a tiny hole into a cardboard. To project the image of the eclipse, stand with your back to the sun and move the cardboard back and forth in front of the screen until you have a big enough image of the eclipse sun. For a good image, the pin-holed cardboard should be at least a metre away from the screen.

The last solar eclipse was seen in Uganda on March 29, 2006. Although it was as visible as a total eclipse in northern Africa and a few other parts of the world, in Uganda it was only seen partially.

Friday’s eclipse will be the longest in this millennium. At some point, as the eclipse moves over the Indian Ocean, maximum eclipse or annularity will last 11 minutes and eight seconds. In July last year, parts of Asia witnessed the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century which lasted six minutes and 39 seconds.

Rare eclipse of the sun in Uganda tomorrow

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