Today Rwanda is expected to be among the African and Middle East countries to view a major celestial event that has amazed people since ancient times– the solar eclipse–, experts confirmed yesterday.
According to Dr Phenias Nkundabakura, a specialist in Astronomy and a Physics lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s College of Education, the sun will be covered up, and day will turn partially to night at least for a short time but the solar eclipse will last more than three hours.
“The eclipse will start at 8:45 am, using safe eclipse viewing method, people will see the western edge of the sun begin to be covered up by the moon’s disk. This will progress slowly until 10:28am when about 80 per cent of the sun’s disk will be covered up. That will be the maximum of this eclipse for the viewing from Rwanda. At this time, the sun will appear as a crescent when viewed through safe glasses. The eclipse will end at 12:22pm. The total duration is 3h 37 minutes,” he explained.
Nkundabakura said that 2000 eclipse glasses were distributed in different schools and they expect that about 10,000 students in Rwandan schools will be given an opportunity to watch safely the solar eclipse.
He said it will be a public event open to everyone and urged people to view the display of nature which he said always creates wonder in children and youths and drives an interest in science.
Nkundabakura, however, warned people not to look directly into the sun for a long time with naked eyes. He also discouraged the use of smoked glasses, colour film, sun glasses and polarising filters as they are not safe.
Solar eclipses happen when the moon moves between sun and earth, blocking the sun’s rays and casting a shadow on Earth.
Myth about solar eclipse for ancient Rwandans is that the solar eclipse is the time when the sun and the moon are in love and discretely hide themselves in darkness. For others, the solar eclipse happens when the sun and the moon are fighting.
Nkundabakura, said the latest solar eclipse appeared in Rwanda in November 2013.