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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
World marvels at total eclipse
Eclipse watchers in Ghana (AP)
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The total eclipse of the Sun finished its journey across the globe at 1148 GMT (1248 BST), in sunset along Mongolia's northern border.

Skywatchers around the world marvelled as they caught a glimpse of the "ultimate astronomical show".

As the spectacle passed overhead, witnesses prayed, cheered and clapped.

The eclipse took just over three hours to sweep a narrow corridor across the Atlantic, through Africa, Turkey and Central Asia.

'Amazing sight'

The Moon's umbral shadow first touched down on Earth at 0836 GMT (0936 BST), at sunrise on the east coast of Brazil.

It then raced across the Atlantic Ocean before making African landfall in Ghana at 0908 GMT (1008 BST), where residents of the capital Accra filled the streets to view the event.

As the temperature dropped and the sky darkened, the crowd looked skywards and shouted and clapped as the eclipse swept above.

Find out more about the route of the eclipse across the Earth

An eclipse watcher in the capital said it was "the most amazing sight" and "a must-see experience".

At 1011 GMT (1211 BST), the eclipse reached the desert of southern Libya where professional and amateur astronomers had gathered to witness the point of greatest eclipse; a sight which lasted a total of four minutes and seven seconds.

The Libyan government prepared for the tourist rush by erecting desert tent villages, with a total capacity for 7,000 people.

Continuing on a northeast course, the eclipse then crossed the southern Mediterranean coast at 1040 GMT (1140 BST).

British and US astronomers joined thousands of skywatchers to view the phenomenon from a Roman amphitheatre in Turkey.

"It's one of those experiences that makes you feel like you're part of the larger universe," said Nasa scientist Janet Luhman.

Other scientists viewed the eclipse from Kastellorizo Island in Greece.

"It was more fabulous even than we expected," said Jay Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College, Massachusetts, after he had observed his 42nd solar eclipse.

"All the technical equipment worked perfectly, the corona shone brightly, and sunspots on the eastern edge of the Sun provided an even more dramatic show than predicted."

The eclipse then moved across Russia through to Central Asia, where its journey finally ended at 1148 GMT (1248 BST) - sunset in the northern borders of Mongolia.

Cloudy skies

See how the world reacted to the event

A partial eclipse was visible across a much wider region, including most of Africa, all of Europe, and much of western and southern Asia. In the UK overcast weather hampered many hoping to catch a glimpse of the event.

"Solar eclipses are the ultimate astronomical show," Dr Robert Massey, senior astronomer at the UK's Royal Observatory Greenwich told the BBC News website.

"It's up there with the highest-rated television programme. If there is one thing you do to do with astronomy in your lifetime, go and see a solar eclipse."

Over the past 25 years there have been 16 total solar eclipses, a rough average of one every 18 months.

They occur when the Moon completely covers the face of the Sun as seen from the Earth's surface. The track of the Moon's shadow across Earth is called the "path of totality".

The Sun's harsh light should only be viewed through protective equipment - proper solar glasses or through a pinhole projection system.

The last total eclipse took place on November 23, 2003, but was visible only from a part of Antarctica.

The next is due on August 1, 2008, and will cross North America, Europe and Asia.

How a total eclipse happens (BBC)

See the eclipse

Solar eclipse diary from Libya
29 Mar 06 |  Africa
Your pictures: Solar eclipse
29 Mar 06 |  In Pictures
When solar fears eclipse reason
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
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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