Africa

Eclipse in Africa: 'Ring of Fire' eclipse wows stargazers

A 'ring of fire' effect seen during the eclipse Image copyright AFP
Image caption The "ring of fire" - an annular eclipse - happens when the moon is far away from Earth during a transit

Stargazers in parts of Africa have been treated to a spectacular "ring of fire" in the sky as the sun was almost - but not completely - eclipsed.

An annular eclipse happens when the moon is farther away from the Earth than during a total eclipse.

The result is a bright circle of sunshine surrounding a dark, shadowy core.

The best views were seen in Tanzania, where the event lasted about three minutes.

The eclipse could also be viewed in parts of Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.

The moon does not move in a perfect circle around the earth - instead, its orbit is slightly elliptical. That means the distance of the moon varies between around 225,000-252,000 miles (362,000-405,555 km).

When the moon is farther away from the earth, it appears smaller - and does not totally cover the sun's disc during a total eclipse. The result is also known as a "ring of fire" eclipse.

The next eclipse is due to take place in February 2017, and can be seen from parts of South America and Africa.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption This is how it looked behind the Askari monument in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Image copyright AFP
Image caption In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, some watched the eclipse in reflections
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The event lasted only a few minutes in any one location, as the moon's shadow crossed Africa
Image copyright AFP
Image caption It can be very dangerous to look at an eclipse, so filters - either professional or homemade - are used
Image copyright AFP
Image caption This composite image shows the progress of the eclipse as seen from La Reunion
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Stargazers take in the sight from La Reunion

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