Southern Africa and the solar eclipse

Those who woke up shortly after dawn on 13 September and thought to themselves that it still seemed a little darker than usual, fret not, for a partial solar eclipse took place when the new moon took a ‘bite’ out of the sun for almost two hours.

The occurrence was confirmed by Kenny Neville, chairperson of the biggest astronomy club in South Africa, the West Rand Astronomy Club.

“South Africans were very lucky this time round, because the eclipse was only visible in southern Africa,” said Neville.

“The eclipse began at 6.43am, peaked at 7.35am and was over by 8.33am.”

Neville stated that the further south you were, the more of the eclipse you would have seen. In Musina for instance, only nine percent of the eclipse was visible, while Capetonians were able to see 31 percent of the eclipse. If by some obscure chance you found yourself in Antartica that morning, you would’ve been able to see 90 percent of the occurrence.

Another rare celestial event is due to take place in the wee hours of 28 September, but this one will at least be easier on the eyes than the solar eclipse.

Night sky watchers are in for a treat – if they are willing to either stay up till after midnight, or get up really early –because the closest Supermoon of 2015 will be completely eclipsed by the earth’s shadow just after 2am. This is also referred to as a Blood Moon and South Africans will only be able to see the beginning of the eclipse because the moon will set before the eclipse ends.


Joni Tollner

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