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‘Special time’ for eclipses

20 February 2017

Annular eclipse

A spectacular partial eclipse in the southern hemisphere will be witnessed by a Welsh astronomy expert who is highlighting its importance to the public.

Dr Rhodri Evans, of Cardiff University’s School of Physics & Astronomy, says the eclipse affecting parts of South America and southern Africa on 26 February 2017 is one of the most significant in the region this century.

He will explain its importance at a public lecture at the University of Namibia (UNAM) this week as part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project.

University of Namibia (Signage)

“This eclipse on 26 February 2017 is one of the six most complete from the Namibian capital Windhoek this century,” he said.

“There have been several solar eclipses visible from Windhoek so far this century, but after the one in June 2001, this is the nearest to complete obscuration of the sun so far.”

The sun will be obscured by up to 85% in the north of Namibia, with the best view of the eclipse available in parts of Chile and Argentina in South America, and Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in southern Africa.

'One of nature’s greatest wonders'

Dr Evans said this was a “special time” for solar eclipses, with other opportunities to see stunning examples.

“The one sweeping across the continental USA on 20 August this year will probably be the most watched total eclipse in history, only rivalled by the one which swept across continental Europe in 1999,” he said.

“Solar eclipses are one of nature’s greatest wonders..."

“To see day turn to night within a few minutes, as happens in a total eclipse, is a sight which will live with a person for the rest of their lives.”

Dr Rhodri Evans

Namibia itself will witness a total eclipse in November 2030, with capital Windhoek “right in the path of totality”.

UK residents will have to wait a good deal longer. The next “deep” partial eclipse is not until August 2026, while a full eclipse will not be witnessed until September 2090.

Dr Evans is in Namibia to lay the groundwork for the Physics/Astronomy faculties of Cardiff University and UNAM to work closely together in areas of mutual benefit.

Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, which supports the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme, is a collaboration between the University and UNAM.

It is one of Cardiff University’s flagship engagement projects, otherwise known as the Transforming Communities programme, which work with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas including health, education and wellbeing.