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The Total Solar Eclipse of 2002
- where to see it in Africa

Introduction | Map: Eclipse path through Africa
Angola |Caprivi Strip | Botswana | Zimbabwe | South Africa | Mozambique
Seeing stars
| Eclipses in History | Online resources

On the morning of 4 December 2002 a total solar eclipse will be visible across southern Africa extending from Angola to Mozambique.

Climate records indicate that the best pace to view the eclipse will be in northern South Africa and southeastern Zimbabwe.

All information sourced from NASA Eclipse Bulletin

See animation of the eclipse

What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun blocking out the Sun's light and casting a shadow on the Earth's surface.

An eclipse of the Sun can only take place at New Moon, and only if the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. Under these circumstances, the Moon's shadow sweeps across a portion of Earth's surface and an eclipse of the Sun is seen from that region. The Moon's shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where the Moon blocks some (but not all) of the Sun's light - a partial solar eclipse. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region where the Moon blocks all direct sunlight from reaching a small portion of Earth - a total solar eclipse.

For more information on the what, why, how, when and where of solar eclipses, see the web site: solar eclipses for beginners.

Protect your eyes - don't look directly at a solar eclipse

An eclipse of the Sun presents a tempting target to photograph, however remember that you should never look directly at the Sun without practicing safe eclipse viewing techniques!
See these web pages:

Where's the best place to see the eclipse in Africa?
Of course to view the eclipse it is important that you have clear skies. Following is an assessment of the best probable places to see to the 4 December 2002 eclipse based on established weather patterns for that time of the year.

In the southern part of the continent the rainfall is highly seasonal with a pronounced dry season in the winter (June) and an equally prominent wet season in the summer. December (start of southern hemisphere summer) is well into the rainy season, although it is not the wettest month.

In spite of the variability of the weather there is a generous supply of sunny weather in December in southern Africa to attract the eclipse-watcher. The best areas are in northern South Africa and southeast Zimbabwe.

Most of the cloudiness in the southern African summer is convective. Satellite images show that the cloud is generally organised into large systems, so that one area might be nearly overcast while adjacent parts several hundred kilometres away are completely clear. Convective clouds build through the day as the ground warms, with the result that this eclipse in the cool morning is likely to have less cloud cover than if it occurred in the afternoon.

Careful examination of climate data shows that the best prospects can be found in an area stretching from Beitbridge in Zimbabwe across Kruger National Park in South Africa to Massingir in Mozambique.

Eclipse photography
To find out more about solar eclipse photography see this web page.

Malaria is a severe problem in southern Africa during the wet season and no part of the eclipse track is immune from the threat. The disease is becoming increasingly resistant to drugs and stringent precautions should be taken by all eclipse observers to minimise the chances of being infected. Light-coloured clothing, mosquito repellents, and an appropriate prophylactics will help reduce the risk. Most African hotel beds are provided with mosquito netting for security at night. With good medical advice and sensible precautions, the risk of malaria can be minimised.

The next eclipse
The next eclipse takes place over Antarctica on November 23, 2003.
Find out more here . . .

Introduction | Map: Eclipse path through Africa
Angola |Caprivi Strip | Botswana | Zimbabwe | South Africa | Mozambique
Seeing stars
| Eclipses in History | Online resources


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