Today in history: Solar eclipse of March 29, 2006

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Niamey, NIGER: A man watches a total solar eclipse in a village 30kms of Niamey, 29 March 2006. The moon blotted out the sun, turning day into night, in a total solar eclipse Wednesday that carved a path from the tip of Brazil over northern Africa to the steppes of Mongolia. Thousands of astronomers and thrill-seekers gazed heavenward, prayers were said by the faithful and schools shut for the day as the three-hour celestial ballet raced across half the world. AFP PHOTO NICOLAS POSTAL (Photo credit should read NICOLAS POSTAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Today in History, exactly 15 years ago on 29th March 2006, Ghana experienced a total Solar eclipse which occurred from 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m across the country. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth.

Photo credit: Edwin Nana Kofi Peprah

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the Sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometers wide. 

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It was visible from a narrow corridor that traversed half the earth. The magnitude, that is, the ratio between the apparent sizes of the Moon and that of the Sun, was 1.052, and it was part of Saros 139.

The path of totality of the moon’s shadow began at sunrise in Brazil and extended across the Atlantic to Africa, traveling across Ghana, the southeastern tip of Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Libya, and a small corner of northwest Egpyt, from there across the Meditteranean to Greece and Turkey, then across the Black Sea via George, Russia, to Western Mongolia, where it ended at sunset.

Niamey, NIGER: A woman watches a total solar eclipse in a village 30kms of Niamey, 29 March 2006. The moon blotted out the sun, turning day into night, in a total solar eclipse Wednesday that carved a path from the tip of Brazil over northern Africa to the steppes of Mongolia. Thousands of astronomers and thrill-seekers gazed heavenward, prayers were said by the faithful and schools shut for the day as the three-hour celestial ballet raced across half the world. AFP PHOTO NICOLAS POSTAL (Photo credit should read NICOLAS POSTAL/AFP via Getty Images)

People around the world gathered in areas where the eclipse was visible to view the event. Almost all actively visited areas in the path of totality had perfect weather.

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Many observers reported an unusually beautiful eclipse, with many or all effects visible, despite the proximity to the solar minimum. The partial phase of the eclipse was also visible from the International Space Station, where the astronauts on board took spectacular pictures of the moon’s shadow on the earth’s surface.

It initially appeared as though an orbit correction set for the middle of March would bring the ISS into the path of totality, but this correction was postponed.

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