Windhoek-The solar eclipse on Sunday will be one of the most spectacular this century, says UK astronomy expert Dr Rhodri Evans.
An eclipse is an obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.
Cardiff University’s Dr Evans said the sun would be partially obscured, with the north near the Angolan border plunged into near darkness.
Evans will be giving a public lecture on Sunday’s eclipse at the University of Namibia (Unam) tomorrow as part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project.
He said: “This eclipse on 26 February 2017 is one of the six most complete from Windhoek this century, so it’s definitely noteworthy and worth making an effort to see.”
“There have been several solar eclipses visible from Windhoek so far this century, but after the one in June 2001, this is the nearest to complete obscuration of the sun so far.”
The February eclipse is an annular eclipse – where the sun remains visible as a bright ring around the moon. It can be seen throughout the whole of Namibia but the most dramatic impact will be in the north. He said in Windhoek the sun will be 69 percent obscured at its greatest, but on the border with Angola this will go up to 85 percent.
Evans is part of Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
He noted that in Windhoek the partial eclipse starts at 17h09 (local time), reaches its maximum at 18h16, while the partial eclipse ends at 19h16, meaning the whole occurrence takes about two hours.
“The times for other places in Namibia will vary slightly, but will not be too different from those times listed for Windhoek.”
After February, he says, there’ll be less spectacular eclipses over the next 10 years – one in December 2020 followed by another in February 2027.
Evans said the “big one” will be in November 2030 when a total solar eclipse would be visible, with Windhoek “right in the path of totality”.
“The 2030 total eclipse will be the only total eclipse visible from Windhoek this century,” he added.
Evans said that anyone wishing to view Sunday’s eclipse was advised to take precautions.
“The sun is bright enough during an eclipse to cause serious and permanent damage to eyesight if not viewed safely,” he said.
“Never look at the sun without eye protection or through any optical equipment (telescopes, binoculars, camera viewfinders) unless it has been properly modified.”
“The safest way to view an eclipse is using a simple pinhole camera to project the image onto a wall or a piece of card,” he cautioned.
The moon orbits the earth once a month, and eclipses happen if it lines up exactly with the earth and the sun. Solar eclipses occur at new moon, when the moon is between earth and the sun. Lunar eclipses occur at full moon, when the earth is between the sun and moon.
Evans is in Namibia to lay the groundwork for the physics and astronomy faculties of Cardiff University and Unam to work closely together in areas of mutual benefit.
Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, which supports the Welsh government’s Wales for Africa programme, is a mutually beneficial collaboration between the university and Unam.
It is one of the university’s flagship engagement projects, otherwise known as the Transforming Communities programme, which work with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas including health, education and well-being.
Evans’ public lecture, entitled “Namibia’s 2017 solar eclipse – why will it happen and what to expect”, will take place tomorrow at 14:30 at the ILRC Auditorium, Unam main campus.