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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 11:14 GMT
Eyewitness: Southern Africa's second dawn
Sun obscured by the moon
The Sun disappeared for one minute

Dawn broke twice this morning in southern Africa, and those who were lucky enough to witness this eclipse will never forget it.

The skies above the town of Messina were clear and blue, allowing for a marvellous experience.

Villagers watching the eclipse through special glasses
This is the second eclipse in southern Africa in two years
Tourists and South Africans climbed on top of rocky outcrops and gasped in wonder as the skies grew darker and darker.

When the sun was completely obscured, there was the most extraordinary light coming round the moon from all sides, like a golden dancing halo.

Stars reappeared in the sky, and confused bats flew out from their roosts. The air grew cold.

But the sun reappeared just one minute later, and this part of Africa once again became hot, bright and dry.

Eclipse watchers

This has been a rare moment of glory for the dusty little border town of Messina.

People usually only come here on their way to somewhere else.

Most keen eclipse watchers from around the world booked in to the famous Kruger National Park, further east.

But at dawn, clouds obscured the sun over Kruger, while the skies were clear and bright in Messina.

Some tourists jumped in their cars and drove more than 100 kilometres to Messina to get the best view of the eclipse.

The Venda people performed traditional dances on the streets for tourists.

Every shop was selling eclipse t-shirts and special eclipse glasses.

Southern Africa has been extremely lucky.

Many of the countries that experienced this eclipse, like Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia, also enjoyed one last year.

But that did not lessen the sense of excitement, as there is not another total eclipse here until 2030.

Tell us about your eclipse experience. What did you see? Did you manage to take a photo?

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Barnaby Phillips' live coverage of the eclipse
"It's like a golden dancing halo around the moon"
The BBC's Jon Brain
"It was as fleeting as it was spectacular"
The BBC's Hilary Andersson in Messina, South Africa
"It was a very eerie, magical event to witness"
Never look at the Sun without protection and always supervise children.

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See also:

26 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
04 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
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