A solar eclipse is one of nature’s most spectacular gifts to man. It is defined as when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth with the Moon fully or partially blocking the Sun. In 2013, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse on the 3rd November. In Africa, it will start in Gabon, traverse through Congo, Uganda and Kenya, ending over Ethiopia (the shortest duration of the eclipse).
During an eclipse, the sky takes on an eerie twilight as the Sun’s bright face is replaced by the black disk of the Moon. Surrounding the Moon is a beautiful gossamer halo. This is the Sun’s spectacular sola corona, a super-heated plasma two million degrees in temperature. This already impressive phenomenon is given an added texture when over Africa. The rather primitive nature of it, shading over vast untouched lands cannot fail to touch you deeply on an elemental level. Historically, the total solar eclipse was frightening to native peoples, unaware of its astronomical explanation. At 2.29pm on the 22nd January 1879, there was a solar eclipse during the Battle of Isandlwana between the Zulu and British armies. The Zulu name for the battle translates as “the day of the dead moon” and it was seen as a portent of victory, further encouraging the Zulus to attack Rorke’s Drift which ended badly for them.
Over Uganda, it will be seen best north of the Murchison Falls on Lake Albert. Over Kenya, the best site (and visible for only 15 seconds) will be beside Lake Turkana on the western side of the lake. The most remote location will be in Ethiopia near the dusty crossroad town of Yabello in the south of the country (and will be viewable for only 11 seconds). All these various locations will have advantages and disadvantages in terms of climate and geography, so it something which is worth doing your homework over. The Uyaphi team will be only too happy to help and combine this magnificent event with a safari in the region.
Solar Eclipse in East Africa by Nicolas Edwards