On Thursday, 21 June 2001, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible in a narrow path in the Southern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's shadow will begin in the South Atlantic just east of the South American continent and cross southern Africa, and Madagascar and end at sunset in the Indian Ocean.
A partial eclipse will be seen in the a broader path, convering an area that includes eastern South America and most of SubSarahan Africa.
The path of totality will cross the Zambian capital city of Lusaka where the eclipse will last approximately 200 seconds. The path of the total eclipse will also cross the countries of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Madagascar.
This eclipse will occur during the 'dry season' when this part of the world experiences rainfall of less than 1 mm per month. So the odds of having clear skies are rather good!
Several tour companies are offering 'African Eclpise Safaris' combining an exploration of this region with astronomical observations. Check with your local astronomy society or travel agent for details.
The following is a chart which shows roughly the times which the eclipse will occur at selected African cities and the percent of coverage:
|Lagos, Nigeria||12.15 GMT||50 percent|
|Lobito, Angola||12.40 GMT||100 percent|
|Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo||12.40 GMT||85 percent|
|Capetown, South Africa||12.50 GMT||50 percent|
|Lusaka, Zambia||13.10 GMT||100 percent|
|Johannesburg, South Africa||13.10 GMT||75 percent|
|Kampala, Kenya||13.15 GMT||55 percent|
|Quelimane, Mozambique||13.20 GMT||100 percent|
|Nariobi, Kenya||13.25 GMT||50 percent|
|Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania||13.25 GMT||70 percent|
|Antananarivo, Madagascar||13.30 GMT||90 percent|
For more information, check out NASA's eclipse website.
You should always take care to protect your vision during an eclipse. When the Sun's apparent brightness drops by 50 percent, it's still bright enough to cause permanent eye damage if you would look directly at the solar disc. Remember that the eye's retina has no pain receptors so you can do serious harm to your vision without ever feeling it. For further reading, check out how to view a solar eclipse.
A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking some but not all of the Sun's light. In this particular eclispe, 72 percent of the Sun will be eclipsed in northern Canada, but for most of the major cities in the northeastern United States, about 50 percent of the Sun will be blocked from view. The coverages falls to 20 percent in Mexico and even lower the further south one travels. The Sun will rise in eclipse on the Pacific Coast and it will occur later in the day the further east you travel.