By Sam Otti, Lagos, Paul Osuyi, Asaba and Magnus Eze, Abuja
Some Nigerians, yesterday, relished the occurrence of an eclipse of the sun as different states across the country witnessed the incident in different proportions.
While residents in the northern parts of the country, particularly, Kano, Zamfara and Plateau states witnessed the eclipse, some parts of the country recorded partial eclipse. Lagos was one of such states.
Delta State reported partial eclipse at about 8.08 am yesterday in parts of Asaba, the state capital. In the areas where the eclipse was observed, the moon appeared in the clouded sky in a ring-like object. It did not, however, arouse curiosity among residents who were indifferent to the occurrence.
But, a resident, Vincent Okonta, who claimed to have seen the eclipse, told Daily Sun that it happened in a flash and most people were not even aware of it.
Some parts of Lagos witnessed the eclipse at about 8:35 am. Daylight was dimmed slightly, with the rest of the day cloudy.
It was different stories in the northern part of the country. In Zamfara State, the eclipse was reportedly pronounced. In Abuja, as early as 6:00 am, many residents, especially school children trooped to the Obasanjo Space Centre headquarters of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), along the Airport Road, to witness the natural phenomenon. A brief show of eclipse happened around 8:45 am, but it did not bring much darkness on the city and its environs.
NASRDA Director General, Prof Seidu Mohammed said those at the viewing centre were only able to watch the occurrence for less than five minutes “because it was covered by cloud.”
He indicated that future eclipse occurrence could be harnessed for tourism, stressing that such was the case in Indonesia where total darkness was witnessed for most parts of the day.
However, there were reports of the eclipse in Kano, Plateau and Sokoto. Zamfara is said to have recorded the highest occurrence as there was no cloud cover. Jos residents witnessed the eclipse clearly.
Victor Momoh, a student of Federal Government College, Rubochi, gave his impression of the eclipse thus: “I learnt something about eclipse. I learnt that before an eclipse can happen, something must come between the sun and moon. I even learnt that if you look at an eclipse with naked eyes it has adverse effect.”
In Anambra State, staff and students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), gathered at the field of Christ Church Chapel, to observe the annular eclipse.
Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group of the university, led by Prof. Augustine Ubachukwu, had informed members of the university community that the eclipse would be partial in the South-East.
Prominent among the observers, who gathered at the location as early as 7:30 am, were the Registrar, Chris Igbokwe; Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Prof. Charles Igwe (Administration); Prof. James Ogbonna (Academic)- and a host of other professors mainly from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Prof Igwe said observing the eclipse was both scientific and fun while Prof James Ogbonna said the experience was beautiful. He recalled that in his primary school days, he and other pupils used water in a white basin to observe eclipse. “Today, technology has made it easier,” he said.
The DVC (Academic) commended the research group for sensitising the university community and for providing the eclipse shades for viewers.
Coordinator of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group, Prof. Ubachukwu said the partial eclipse took full effect around 8:00 am after which the separation started.
He said it was necessary to inform people about the effect of the eclipse to avoid the impression that the world was coming to an end.
Annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers the sun’s centre, leaving the sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the moon.
Experts said solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the earth and the sun, lining up with the sun as seen by onlookers on the earth surface.
“In total eclipse, the moon lines up perfectly with the sun and blocks out light rays, while in an annular eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the sun,” experts said.
They warned that it was dangerous to view the partial rays, as in annular eclipse, with the naked eyes as it could cause damage, and advised that solar eclipse glasses should be used in observing the image.