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Sunday, November 3, 2013

A must-see: Rare solar eclipse sweeps across the world

A must-see: Rare solar eclipse sweeps across the worldThis picture taken on November 3, 2013 shows a rare hybrid solar eclipse through clouds from the Canary Island of Tenerife (AFP Photo / Desiree Martin)This picture taken on November 3, 2013 shows a rare hybrid solar eclipse through clouds from the Canary Island of Tenerife (AFP Photo / Desiree Martin)


A rare "hybrid" solar eclipse, hailed as "the most interesting eclipse of the year", has swept across parts of Africa, America and Europe on Sunday.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth casting a shadow on the Earth. It's a rare event because this is a hybrid type. During a total eclipse, the Moon fully covers the Sun, whereas in the annular variety the Moon doesn't totally block out the Sun, leaving a halo of sunlight visible around the Moon. 
A hybrid eclipse usually starts and ends as an annular event, although it appears as a total eclipse in the middle. 
According to NASA, this Sunday's eclipse is even more unique as it starts annular and ends as a total eclipse. 
Thanks to the round shape of the Earth, lucky enthusiasts in West Africa have a chance to observe a total eclipse, while others in Europe and in the US will only see the sun partly obscured. 
Doctors warn, however, that during the eclipse viewers shouldn't look directly at the sun, unless they use special welder's glasses or are watching the phenomenon with a pinhole camera. Plain sunglasses won't protect the naked eye well enough. 
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Egyptian capital Cairo, on November 3, 2013 (AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Egyptian capital Cairo, on November 3, 2013 (AFP Photo / Khaled Desouki)

The eclipse begins about 1,000 kilometers east of Jacksonville, Florida, with an annular eclipse visible for four seconds at sunrise. 
The greatest part of the eclipse is expected to take place over the Atlantic Ocean, about 330 kilometers southwest of Liberia, at 12:47 GMT, lasting one minute and 39 seconds.

A state on the west coast of Central Africa, Gabon, will get peak viewing of the total eclipse sweeping over a path some 60 kilometers wide. At its peak, the sun will be blocked out for about one minute. 
"The eclipse will then continue across Africa through the Congo until it passes through northern Uganda and northern Kenya, ending in southern Ethiopia and Somalia," the International Astronomical Union said. In northern Kenya, the eclipse will last about 10 seconds.

Depending on the weather, partial phases of the eclipse will be visible in southern Europe, including parts of Spain, Italy and Greece.
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on November 3, 2013 (AFP Photo / Ebrahim Hamid)
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on November 3, 2013 (AFP Photo / Ebrahim Hamid)