When will I be able to see today's solar eclipse?


It's going to be a sight to behold -- and South Africans are going to have the best seats in the house.

The annular solar "ring of fire" eclipse is set to dazzle (or rather dim?) the sky on 1 September 2016 and according to Space.com, southern Africa is going to get the best view of the phenomenon.

But beware: you should never look directly at the sun with your naked eye. The bright light can burn the retina at the back of the eye, leaving your eyes permanently damaged.

Don't watch it through a standard pair of sunglasses, a piece of smoked glass or coloured film . If you don't have a

proper pair of eclipse spectacles you can use a double layer of the foil teabags are packed in or a pair of number 14 welder's goggles.

You can also watch through a double layer of teabag foil -- but only for a few seconds.

Read more: This photo an astronaut took of South Africa from space will take your breath away

Whatever you use, make sure it has no holes and isn't scratched. The only time you can look at a solar eclipse with the naked eye is during the total eclipse, when it's dark. Unfortunately that won't be the case this time around (although you will be able to see a total eclipse in August next year) so keep your eyes protected at all times!

When will I see it?

This is when you can see the event in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town, according to Time and Date.com.




Click here for more locations

What is an eclipse?

Most ancient peoples were terrified by solar eclipses and many thought they were warnings of dire events to follow.

Some African tribes believed they were omens a chief would soon die or a great drought was on its way. Many

peoples also thought God had hidden the sun from them because he was angry.

Read more: Are aliens trying to contact us? Radio signal from outer space spurs talk of extraterrestrial life

Today we know solar eclipses are nothing more sinister than the moon moving between Earth and the sun,

casting a shadow on Earth . When the moon blocks the sun completely we have a total solar eclipse but because

the sun is so much bigger than the moon people in most areas see only a partial eclipse or no eclipse.

As Earth and moon move the total eclipse moves in a band across Earth . The path it follows is about 16 000 km long

but a total eclipse is experienced in a band only 160 km wide.

There are three types of solar eclipses:

> Total When the moon completely blots out the sun, leaving only the sun’s corona visible.

> Annular When the moon moves in front of the sun and leaves only the outer rim of the sun visible. 1 September's eclipse falls into the category.

> Partial When the moon obscures only part of the sun, making the sun look as if a bite has been taken out of it.

After a total solar eclipse it takes 18 years and 10 or 11 and a half days – depending on the number of leap years in that time – before another total or partial solar eclipse occurs in the same place.

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