Story & photos by Unumoe Esera
APIA: WEDNESDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2012: Hundreds of people, many of them students, made a special effort to see the partial solar eclipse late this morning through three dimensional (protective) glasses. The partial eclipse started at 10:16 am showing the moon touching the sun’s edge.
By 11:17am the maximum eclipse was clearly visible with the moon closest to the centre of the sun. The partial eclipse ended at 12:26pm with the moon leaving the sun’s edge.
The extraordinary phenomenon was witnessed by excited employees of the Meteorology Division at Mulinu’u and students of SENESE Secondary School.
Claire Starling, SENESE Secondary Coordinator said that the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture had donated the glasses to their school and various other Primary and Secondary schools around the country and explained what to do with the glasses. She said the students had gathered outside the school grounds at 10:16am to see the beginning of the eclipse and later shifted to the STA Grounds to see the change at 11:17am.
Fifteen intellectually disabled students also witnessed the eclipse. One of the students, Robert Cain said he had noticed the change of the sun from being big to then becoming smaller as it was covered by the moon. He said he had seen a lunar eclipse before, but this was the first time he has seen a solar eclipse. Maria Pelenato another student said it looked like it was going to be a full eclipse and the sun looked like a half moon.
According to one of the employees of the Meteorology Geophysics department an eclipse is a rare occurrence which happens every 10 to 20 years.
Some information about the Solar Eclipse
1. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely obscures the sun. At this time, both the sun and the moon – which is 400 times smaller than the sun, but 400 times closer to Earth – appear the same size in the sky while the moon casts a small, circular shadow on Earth.
2. A total solar eclipse is the only time the sun’s outer layers of gas – the corona – can be viewed from Earth. Usually the corona is too faint to see against the blue sky.
3. Scientists also use eclipses to measure the diameter of the sun and assess changes in its size over time.
4. One of the earliest known records of an eclipse comes from ancient China, when the moon is thought to have blocked the sun on October 22, 2134BC.
5. In places where a total eclipse can be viewed, the sky will darken enough that other planets will also be visible. During totality, Venus and Saturn will glow higher than the sun in the sky, while Mercury will sit between the sun and the horizon.
6. People who travel the world to watch eclipses are known as eclipse hunters, eclipse chasers or umbraphiles (umbra meaning “shadow”, phile meaning “lover of”).