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Kenyan astronomers 'defy' COVID-19 to witness solar eclipse


Dozens of skywatchers gathered in parts of the world to witness Sunday’s partial solar eclipse. A number of African and Asian countries were privileged to have witnessed the annular phenomenon.

In Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, observers saw only a partial eclipse as clouds blocked the sky for several seconds at the exact moment the moon should have almost hidden the sun.

Susan Murbana , an astronomer with the Travelling Telescope: “Today is a very exciting day there has been an eclipse. In Nairobi it’s a partial solar eclipse but this kind of eclipse is an annular eclipse where you get the ring of fire and we are not able to see that because we are not getting totality in Nairobi.”

Without the coronavirus pandemic, they would have organised a trip to Lake Magadi in southern Kenya where the skies are generally clearer than over the capital.

Another astronomer, Chu Owen, spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on plans: “Weird for us because we normally do groups and gatherings which of course at the moment we can’t do because of the pandemic.

“And so we have been very graciously allowed to come to someone’s rooftop – our neighbour, we actually just live just down there – and we were able to share on zoom with people around the world are joining in so it is really a kind of nice feeling that we are helping people to see the eclipse that they would not be able to see. We have had people joining from England, Canada, South Africa, Ethiopia, India.”

The annular eclipse happens every year or two and is visible from only about two percent of the earth’s surface. There will be a second solar eclipse over South America on December 14 2020.

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