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AFRICA 3 Nov 2013 Sole total solar eclipse of 2013 unique, but could disappoint

The only total solar eclipse of 2013 cuts a thin path over the Atlantic Ocean then Gabon, Congo, Uganda and Kenya. Ship

November 3, 2013 - NULL

AFRICA 3 Nov 2013 Sole total solar eclipse of 2013 unique, but could disappoint

The only total solar eclipse of 2013 cuts a thin path over the Atlantic Ocean then Gabon, Congo, Uganda and Kenya. Shipboard eclipse tourists are likely to be rewarded with a show. Land-based viewers can't count on one because of the 80-90 per cent probability of clouds in the four Equatorial African countries. The uniqueness of the Nov 3 eclipse could see some visitors chancing a clear sky and traveling to Africa. If a significant number, anticipating disappointment, choose to stay home, the four countries

AFRICA 3 Nov 2013 Sole total solar eclipse of 2013 unique, but could disappoint

The only total solar eclipse of 2013 cuts a thin path over the Atlantic Ocean then Gabon, Congo, Uganda and Kenya. Shipboard eclipse tourists are likely to be rewarded with a show. Land-based viewers can't count on one because of the 80-90 per cent probability of clouds in the four Equatorial African countries. The uniqueness of the Nov 3 eclipse could see some visitors chancing a clear sky and traveling to Africa. If a significant number, anticipating disappointment, choose to stay home, the four countries won't be able to enjoy the economic bonanza that usually accompanies solar eclipses.

NASA expert Fred Espenak explains that it is one of the rare hybrid or annular/total eclipses in which some sections of the path are annular while other parts are total. The duality comes about when the vertex of the Moon's umbral shadow pierces Earth's surface at some locations, but falls short of the planet along other sections of the path. The unusual geometry is due to the curvature of Earth's surface that brings some geographic locations into the umbra while other positions are more distant and enter the antumbral rather than umbral shadow.

In most cases, according to Espenak, the central path begins annular, changes to total for the middle portion of the track, and reverts back to annular towards the end of the path. For the Nov 3 show, the central path begins annular and ends total. The central path is typically quite narrow, he adds, because hybrid eclipses occur near the vertex of the Moon's umbral/antumbral shadows.

During a total eclipse, the Sun's corona stretches out in all directions like filaments of light, and the Moon in the middle takes on an Earthly glow. Called earthshine, it is the reflected light of Earth on the Moon's dark side.

A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes eastern North America, northern South America, southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Cairns in Australia, only one of several of the easily accessible locations with reliable prospects for clear skies and peak viewing of the Nov 2012 total solar eclipse, netted some Au. $135 million (US $141) from visitors. In a local news publication, Cairns official Margaret Darveniza described the event as having "the biggest ever economic impact for a single event on our local economy." She said retail, accommodation, food service and transport industries benefited the most. (WRITTEN JAN 2013)

KEYWORDS: total solar eclipse, November 2013, traverse, path, Equatorial Africa, Atlantic Ocean, Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, unique, hybrid total eclipse, hybrid annular eclipse, hybrid total eclipses, hybrid annular eclipses, NASA, Fred Espenak

RELATED READING:

2013 Eclipses Fred Espenak, NASA)
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2013.html

Total solar eclipse last month delivered a $135 million bonanza (Cairns.com 22 Dec 2013)
http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/12/22/237853_local-news.html

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Date written/update: 2013-11-03