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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Rare cosmic encounter in Ghana
Kwaku Saki-Addo
BBC, Ghana

Ghanaians watch the eclipse
Millions watched the eclipse through special protective spectacles

Millions of Ghanaians in the south of the country today experienced a total eclipse, the rare cosmic encounter in which the sun takes cover behind the moon.

Ghana was the first country in Africa to go through the celestial phenomenon at about 0914 local time.

It passed on to seven other African countries including Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Chad before heading across the Mediterranean and disappearing in Mongolia at 1148 GMT (1248 BST).

Thousands of students at the University of Cape Coast screamed in awe as they were gradually engulfed in darkness, when the moon hung in front of the sun, leaving a glittering ring in the heavens.

'Amazing!'

The students, wearing protective spectacles, gathered at the science department of the University.

The department is using the occasion to advocate the study of science.

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Photo: Nuno De Gois

Through international collaboration, the department mounted an observatory which streamed the eclipse to a giant screen in a packed auditorium where specialists from several countries held scientific seminars earlier in the week.

"This is amazing!" one student yelled in disbelief.

"What a spectacle, incredible, incredible!" a female student muttered as she stared at the skies, her mouth ajar.

As twilight fell, flocks of disoriented birds flew overhead on their way back to their nests.

"I want my supper," one student joked. "I should have brought my pyjamas," quipped another.

Second chance

A group of etymology students stood by a shrub jotting down the behaviour of a swarm of bees. "We're studying the foraging behaviour of insects during an eclipse," said Juliana Attoh.

"They seemed to be eating earlier this morning when the sun was out, but they're eating less and less now that twilight is falling."

She hoped to discover a previously unknown phenomenon that might be named after her.

Eric Adjei, on the other hand, said he prayed hard before stepping out this morning. "I think this might be the end of the world. I've prayed for forgiveness."

When the spectacle passed, he said: "God has given us a second chance to repent."

Indeed, when it was all over, which was in minutes, many students did want a second chance.

Some could be heard shouting "rewind, rewind!

"We want slow motion, slow motion!"

They'll have to wait 31 years. The next total eclipse to be visible in Ghana will be in 2037.

How a total eclipse happens (BBC)




SEE ALSO:
Antarctic witnesses total eclipse
24 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
White Continent to go black
21 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
Millions wonder at southern eclipse
04 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature


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