Southern Africa and the solar eclipse

A picture of a partial solar eclipse like the one which will be taking place on 13 September. PHOTO:

If you wake up shortly after dawn on 13 September and think to yourself that it seems a little darker than usual, fret not, for a partial solar eclipse will be taking place when the new moon will be taking a ‘bite’ 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 (Wrac).

“South Africans are very lucky this time round with the upcoming eclipse because it will only be visible in southern Africa,” said Neville.

“The eclipse will begin at 6.43am, peak at 7.35am and will be over by 8.33am.”

An interesting infographic on the total lunar eclipse, or Blood Moon, which will take place on 28 September. CREDIT:

An interesting infographic on the total lunar eclipse, or Blood Moon, which will take place on 28 September. CREDIT:

Neville further stated that the further south you are, the more of the eclipse you’ll be able to see. In Musina for instance, only nine percent of the eclipse will be visible, while Capetonians will be able to see 31 percent of the eclipse. If by some obscure chance you find yourself in Antartica, you will be able to see 90 percent of the occurrence.

“It is very important to warn eclipse watchers not to look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, however,” Neville added.

Optometry experts have proven that infra-red rays emitted by the sun can damage vision without any pain or feeling. “Dark glasses [or welding goggles] are probably best for viewing the eclipse.”

These glasses/goggles can be found at most hardware stores around Gauteng.

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.

Joni36solar GIF

Night sky watchers are in for a treat – if they are willing to either stay up till after midnight, or get up really early that is – because the closest Supermoon or Perigee moon (when the moon is closest to the earth) 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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