World Prepares for Total Solar Eclipse
Monday، 20 July 2009 12:00 AM
Tourists and scientists were gathering at spots around the world for the first total eclipse in years, a solar show that will sweep northeast from Brazil to Mongolia and blot out the sun across swathes of the world’s poorest lands.
The last such eclipse in November 2003 was most visible from Antarctica, said Alex Young, a NASA scientist involved in solar research.
Wednesday’s eclipse will block the sun in highly populated areas, including West Africa. NASA said it won’t be visible from the United States.
In Togo, authorities imported hundreds of thousands of pairs of special glasses that consumers cleared rapidly from shelves in the capital, Lome. Villagers in the interior will not have access to the eyewear and officials called on them to stay home.
"Please, do not go out and keep your children indoors on solar eclipse day," Togo’s minister for health said in a message broadcast on state television.
Day will turn to night in the eclipse’s route and a corona _ the usually invisible extended atmosphere of the sun _ will glow around the edges of the moon as it comes between the earth and the sun.
"Imagine if your hair was to stand up from static electricity, that’s kind of what the corona looks like all around the sun," NASA’s Young said. But the corona’s light can burn eyes.
In Ghana, where the effect will be particularly visible, people were spending about $1 for "solar shades" _ paper-rimmed glasses with dark plastic lenses that resemble eyewear used for viewing three-dimensional movies.
NASA said Turkey will be the best spot to view the eclipse and tens of thousands of tourists were expected along the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Astronomers from NASA and Britain’s Royal Institute of Astronomy were also going to an ancient Roman amphitheater in Turkey to view the phenomenon.
The moon is expected to first begin blocking out the sun in the morning in Brazil before the eclipse migrates to Africa, then on to Turkey and up into Mongolia, where it will fade out with the sunset.
Superstition will follow around the world, as it has for generations.
One Indian paper advised pregnant women not to go outside during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip. Food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown out afterward because it will be impure and those who are holding a knife or ax during the eclipse will cut themselves, the Hindustan Times added.
Total eclipses are rare because they require the tilted orbits of the sun, moon and earth to line up exactly so that the moon obscures the sun completely. The next total eclipse will occur in 2008.
By : Kwasi Kpodo
The Associated Press
March 28, 2006; 10:37 PM