Namibians to see ‘Ring of Fire’ as annular solar eclipse nears
Namibia will experience an annular solar eclipse on Sunday 26 February and this will be one of the most spectacular in the country this century, according to UK astronomy expert, Dr Rhodri Evans.
Cardiff University’s Dr Evans said the sun would be partially obscured across Namibia, with the north near the Angolan border plunged into near-darkness. Dr. Evans will give a public lecture about Sunday’s eclipse at the University of Namibia (UNAM) on 22 February as part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project.
“This eclipse on 26 February 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
“In Windhoek the sun will be 69% obscured at its greatest, but on the border with Angola this will go up to 85%,” said Dr. Evans.
“In Windhoek the partial eclipse starts at 17:09 (local time), reaches its maximum at 18:16 and the partial eclipse ends at 19:16. So the whole thing 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,” he said.
According to him, after February, there are less spectacular eclipses in Namibia over the next 10 years, one in December 2020 followed by another in February 2027. Dr. Evans said that the “big one” for Namibia will be in November 2030 when a total solar eclipse would be visible, with Windhoek “right in the path of totality”.
Dr. Evans said that anyone wishing to view Sunday’s eclipse is 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 added.
Dr Evans is in Namibia to lay the groundwork for the Physics/Astronomy faculties of Cardiff University and UNAM to work closely together in areas of mutual benefit with Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, which supports the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme.
The programme is a mutually beneficial collaboration between the University and UNAM. It is one of the University’s flagship engagement projects, also known as the Transforming Communities programme, which work with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas including health, education and wellbeing.
(Photograph by Astronomers without Borders)