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23 November 2011

Partial solar eclipse coming


A partial solar eclipse will sweep across the southern part of the world on Friday, November 25.

Chair of the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) working group on eclipses, Jay Pasachoff, says the moon will cover about 80 percent of the sun at the south pole.

Only viewers close enough to Antarctica and Cape Town would be able to see the eclipse near sunrise, and on the Australian island of Tasmania and South Island of New Zealand near sunset.

In Cape Town, the eclipse will take place over a period of about 80 minutes an hour after sunrise, from 6.28am to 7.18am, with a maximum coverage of 10 percent of the sun's diameter.

"Because the everyday sun is too bright to look at safely, special solar filters or projection methods should always be used to protect the eyes," said Pasachoff.

The central part of the shadow would pass 330km below the south pole. 90 percent of the sun would be covered at the part of Antarctica south of Patagonia, South America.

The IAU said partial eclipses were not usually scientifically useful, but the moon's advancing edge could help radio astronomers pinpoint solar storms.

This year was unusual because it had only four partial solar eclipses and during all of them the darkest part of the moon's shadow passed over the earth's surface.

On November 14, 2012, a total solar eclipse would start in northeastern Australia,the IAU said.

- East Coast Radio