Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lights in the Sky

Day and night, the dome of the sky is a stage on which superb scenes are played, with the Sun in the leading role. But often the show is merely one of visual effects, the subtle play of perturbed sunlight in the atmosphere.

Today, 29th March 2006, between the hours of 10.00am and 11.00am, this phenomena played itself out on the Nigerian stage. Though the point of greatest eclipse featured elsewhere in the continent, about eleven states witnessed this amazing secret of nature, including; Lagos, Ogun, Sokoto, Niger, Abuja, etc. The government and the National Space Agency had carried out massive campaigns for the people not to associate this natural phenomena with superstitious beliefs, and not to view it with the naked eyes.

Very Special Effects

When the Sun is Hidden...and Revealed

click to playThe eclipse of the Sun is one of the most moving natural phenomena that is possible to observe from the Earth. But you need to be in the right place at the right time. The term 'eclipse' is actually inappropriate, and is more correctly referred to as 'the occlusion of the Sun by the Moon'. During the precious few minutes of this occlusion, you can see an immense halo round the Sun, the solar corona.

Usually visible, it reveals the existence of energy in the surrounding space. Just before and after the stage when occlusion is complete, the final rays light up the irregular surface of the Moon. Very bright points called Baily's beads then appear, forming a ring of diamonds arround the Moon. In addition, at the edge of total occlusion, it is possible to see the Sun's photosphere in the form of a thin pink border, from which emerge, here and there, incredibly long thread-like features, or prominences.

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