4 Nov 2013

Rare glimpse of solar eclipse

10:53 am on 4 November 2013

A rare solar eclipse allowing a view of the Sun that is totally or partially blocked out by the Moon has been visible from Africa, Europe and the United States.

Despite rain and overcast skies residents of southern Gabon got a glimpse of the total eclipse of the sun, which was also visible in eastern Africa.

At its peak over land in central Gabon, the sun was blocked out for about a minute. The west African nation got peak viewing of the total eclipse as it swept over a path nearly 60 kilometres wide.

Weather permitting, partial phases of the eclipse were also visible in southern Europe and in the eastern United States.

In Port-Gentil, families gathered together for the occasion along the sea front, facing the sun.

Those who did not have special glasses distributed by the authorities to watch the event came up with imaginative solutions. Among them was Pauline Koumba, who put a bowl of water in her courtyard and watched the reflected eclipse.

"I saw the brief passage of the eclipse in my bowl. But it was over quickly and the black clouds spoiled the effect," she said.

Families also gathered in the capital Libreville, where the eclipse was less spectacular, but where the skies darkened noticeably for about half an hour from 1330 GMT on Sunday.

It then continued across Africa, passing through northern Uganda and northern Kenya, although overcast skies marred the effect.