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BEST SKY VIEWS: Solar Eclipse Dates and Venues
Recap of the best sky event of 2013
The hybrid solar eclipse that happened on November 3rd 2013 was the most rare event this year. For those who missed out, I start with a recap of the event then highlight what is expected in 2014.
Turkana, the best view of eclipse
Lake Turkana offers the best view of the 2013 hybrid solar eclipse due to clear weather and splendid scenery
Hybrid Solar Eclipse
The 2013 hybrid solar eclipse was special because there have only been less than ten eclipses of this type in the last 100 years. It is called a hybrid solar eclipse because both annular and total eclipses are viewed in different places during the duration of one occurrence. The following locations had the best views on earth due to the duration of the totality and prevailing weather conditions:
The area around Lake Turkana saw both an annular and total solar eclipse and was regarded the best place for viewing due to a clear sky. The eclipse begun at 13:13 hrs GMT (16:13 Local) and ended at 15:27 hrs GMT (18:27 Local time), with the totality at 14:25 hrs GMT (17:25 local) for only 13 seconds.Thousands of tourists flocked the area at various points and local businesses cashed in on this with prices of hotel rooms rising. A dust storm almost ruined the viewing as it was had at times to see the eclipse due to dust. However, after the dust settled the sky gazers were able to enjoy the spectacular view.
The eclipse made land fall at Wonga Wongue national park at 12:12:42 GMT and ended at 15:14:25 GMT with the maximum eclipse seen at 13:50:55 GMT for 8 seconds. Other prominent areas for viewing were Lakes Azingo and Nkonie.
The track of the eclipse entered the central part of Congo (Brazaville) and started at 12:31:31 GMT to 15:20:25 GMT with maximum view at 14:03:32 for 8.3 seconds. A good view was at Makua.
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
The first point of view in the DRC was Mbandaka on the eastern border with Congo. Start time was 12:38:48 GMT with maximum view at 14:07:48 GMT and end time at 15:22:28. Maximum point lasted for only 2.3 seconds. Bunia, Basoko, Kisangani and Mahagi areas on the border with Uganda were some of the best places to view the eclipse.
Solar Eclipse: Occurs when the sun is partially or fully obscured by the moon. There are three types of solar eclipses.
Partial eclipse - only a fraction of the sun's disc is obscured because the sun and moon are not in a completely straight line in relation to one another.
Annular eclipse - the sun and moon are on a straight line but the moon does not completely obscure the sun because of its apparently smaller size . The sun appears as a bright ring surrounding the dark disc of the moon.
Total eclipse - here the disc of the moon completely covers the sun, leaving only a faint corona around it. These eclipses can be seen in a very narrow band around the earth
A Hybrid solar eclipse occurs when there is a transition between annular and total eclipse during an eclipse episode. These a rare occurrences.
The eclipse at the Pearl of Africa was first seen at the border with the DRC at Mahagi. It started at 13:07:39 GMT and ended at 14:27:52 GMT. Maximum view was at 14:23:08 GMT with a duration of 2.5 seconds. Good views were at Mahagi, Gulu and Lira. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni joined other Ugandans to watch the event which was broadcast live in television stations in East Africa.
The eclipse track continued on its eastward journey and straddled Ethiopia's southern most edge starting at 13:14:52 GMT with maximum view 11 minutes later at 14:25:57 GMT for 8.6 seconds. The partial eclipse stage ended the whole episode at 15:27:36 GMT.
The hybrid eclipse in Somalia entered on the eastern border with Ethiopia and started at 13:16:20 GMT to 15:27:24 GMT. The maximum darkness of this eclipse lasted for 2.5 seconds and started at 14:26:26 GMT. Somalia was the last point of contact of the eclipse in Africa.
Looking directly at the sun with naked eyes can lead to damage and one is advised to use protective goggles. If no goggles are available one can use welder's glass which offers good protection against the glare. Another way of observing an eclipse is to capture the image and project in on a screen without looking directly at the sun.
Other Kenyan Towns
Start of partial eclipse