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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 10:18 GMT
Did you witness the eclipse?
Millions of people in Africa and Australia have witnessed the only total eclipse of 2002.

It began at 0550 GMT out in the Atlantic Ocean and quickly moved across Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean before touching Australia.

Total solar eclipses happen on Earth about once a year and occur when the Moon's orbit takes it between the Earth and the Sun, blocking the star's light and sinking part of the Earth's surface into temporary darkness.

Have you witnessed the eclipse? Send us your experiences. If you have any photos send them as an attachment to: talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

Open in new window : Readers' pics
News Online readers watched the only total eclipse of the year with cameras at the ready. Here are some of their images.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

On xai xai beach from 7 am with more white people on the beach than ever before in my nine months here as a VSO worker. Even the Indian ocean lapping against the artificial looking bank of dead coral seemed to hush along with the birds and the family of monkeys roaming the campsite next to the beach. It was too cloudy at the crucial time for the diamond ring effect so that was a little sigh of regret but otherwise a fantastic morning, fascinating natural phenomenon, people watching and a good breakfast at my favourite cafe on the beach to round it off. A perfect start to the day.
Maura, xai/xai Mozambique

Amazing sight. Beautiful clear skies in northern Botswana. Absolute perfection. Only downside was the short time period of totality (1m 13s). After seeing just cloud in Cornwall, this was a joy.
David, UK (in Zambia at present)


Breathtaking and spooky!

Ailsa, Australia
I was trying to spot the eclipse through a very cloudy sky in Adelaide. I walked to the top of my street and the clouds parted for the most spectacular sight. Breathtaking and spooky!
Ailsa, Australia

We drove to an outback town called Lyndhurst - normal population 10 - on Wednesday it was 10,000! The journey there and back for us and three kids under six was 12 hours - 1400km. We managed to be standing in a path of eclipse shadow for 20 seconds which was the most amazing sight in a clear blue sky of the hot outback. It was the first time we have had an eclipse experience and was totally worth the journey. However, we will always remember the event as our three year old fell over and gashed her head open at the same time and needed stitches at the nearest hospital 60 km away! What a day!
Stephanie, UK expat in Adelaide, Australia

I was in Ceduna in Australia and it was extraordinary how the light faded, and the shadows lengthened. When the moon slipped across the sun it was like someone turning the light out. Then it came back again, all seemingly in the blink of an eye. Must do another one!
Charlie, England

I was surfing at Maroubra beach, sitting beyond the breaking waves on my surfboard, the sun was only partially eclipsed but the glow of the smoke from the current bushfires gave a surreal red glow to the area. Very peaceful.
R Kwong, Australia

The eclipse could be seen in Australia, we saw a partial one on an oil rig in the Timor Sea.
A Rule, Australia


We breathed a sigh of relief mistaking the eclipse for a sign of rain

Eddie Mwiinga, Zambia
I am in Lusaka and we experienced a partial eclipse. It has been hot in the past two weeks and for a moment we breathed a sigh of relief mistaking the eclipse for a sign of rain! It's not only people who were caught off guard; chickens and birds started going back to roost due to the darkness. It was a reminder of the splendid moment we experienced last year.
Eddie Mwiinga, Zambia

After a very cloudy day in Melbourne, the skies finally cleared just in time to watch the partially eclipsed sun set. A sizeable crowd gathered on the Esplanade at St Kilda beach, swapping glasses, taking photos and watching the projected image of the sun thanks to a guy who had brought his telescope along.
Jolyon Philcox, Australia

It was fantastic. I watched in amazement from bedroom window. I does make you feel a bit insignificant when something like this happens.
David, England

Am I the only person to have seen the from the UK?! I wandered out into my garden and around 0530 this morning, and sure enough the sun was completely eclipsed. It was an amazing experience - the birds were in full song just as if it was... well, dawn really.
Gaz, UK


We were treated to some special effects

Denis Cilliers, Johannesburg, South Africa
We had around 75% cloud cover, so we saw the eclipse through the clouds. We also had around 88% coverage so it was fun to see the crescent move around the sun. The clouds made a visual effect and played with the light so we were treated to some special effects. I Have some pictures, which I will send.
Denis Cilliers, Johannesburg, South Africa

If you have never experienced a total (100%) eclipse then you will never understand just how it changes you from then on. It is the most awe inspiring experience.
Colin Hamilton, UK

I haven't seen an eclipse either, but something similar: Early afternoon on a Wednesday in the middle of the summer of 1990 I was in the centre of Paris. It was bright, sunny and hot. After a while I noticed the sky getting darker and darker. Within the space of half an hour it had become totally black with flashes of lightening and shop windows lighting up the pavements. Everyone stopped what they were doing (unusual for Parisians) to marvel at the weird atmosphere. Then the rain started. Rivers ran down the streets and after only 15 minutes all the metros were flooded and people instead filled the streets wading through the water. Something that'll stick in the minds of everyone who was there.
Martin Apple, Sweden

I live in Durban. I woke up extra early to witness something I have always wanted to see. But I just saw clouds and no sight of anything even resembling the eclipse. Well I guess I will get to see it if I make it to old age! Such is life.
Charleen Brink, South Africa


I think I have eye damage

Gabe, Australia
Actually, I think I have eye damage. I shouldn't have watched it at all.
Gabe, Australia

I live in a small rural dwelling and knew nothing of this eclipse - It suddenly went dark in the middle of the day.
Dom W, Angola

Although we had a partial eclipse of about 74% in King William's Town, a small town in the Eastern Cape Province it was a rare phenomenon - I was bombarded with several SMS on my cell phone.
Fred Kigozi, South Africa

Here on the Cape West Coast we had a lovely, sunny morning and could watch the partial eclipse really well. My attention was divided, however, as I was following the full eclipse TV coverage from Limpopo. Wish I could have been at Shingwedzi - absolutely my favourite place in the whole world, whatever the planets are doing!
Noelle van der Waag, South Africa

Due to clouds, Northern Namibia could not witness a total eclipse. What a total disappointment to many of us!
K Ainnima, Namibia

I've never witnessed a total eclipse, but only watched it happening on TV. I admit that I would like to see this eclipse very much, but I can't. I am neither Australian nor African. What a sad thing it is. Didn't any eclipse ever come to the West Pacific area?
Jared, Taiwan

To Jared: The nearest eclipse to Taiwan is July 22nd 2009. The eclipse starts in India, goes over Nepal and travels over most of China, including Shanghai. Hope this helps!
Phil, England

Jared: According to the BBCi Space website, there'll be a total eclipse in East Asia and the Pacific on 22 July 2009. Tell us your eclipse experience in 7 years time.
Yogesh, Hong Kong


It went from a sunny afternoon to a very dim pseudo evening in the space of about 15 minutes

Christopher Valentine, Australia
I'm in Perth, Western Australia and the eclipse has just passed as I write this. It's quite eerie, as it went from being a sunny and hot afternoon to a very dim pseudo evening in the space of about 15 minutes. I stayed inside during the eclipse, but I was able to see the changing light from the sundeck at the back of my house.
Christopher Valentine, Australia

I agree with Christopher, here in Perth the light took on a peculiar tinge as the eclipse advanced, the sky appearing a deeper blue than usual despite the short shadows - the heat from the sun also was also noticably reduced. I watched it using both the pin-hole projection method and using a couple of polarizing lenses turned at 90 degrees to each other - it was fascinating to see it.
Mike Northall, Perth, Oz

I watched it on a live webcast from Ceduna, while witnessing a partial eclipse outside my window.
Robert Langdon, Australia

I have witnessed the last eclipse, although in my country, it took only a few minutes for one to enjoy it. It was dark for some seconds and many were looking for sunglasses - although they were not very necessary.
Ole, Tanzania

I don't see what the fuss is all about with the moon crossing the sun's path every once and awhile.
Suresh Gnasegarah, Malaysia

In reply to Suresh - the spectacle of the world going completely dark around you for five minutes in the middle of the day is one of the most awe-inspiring things you might ever witness. It gets cold, the birds go to roost, bats and other night creatures come out and everything changes for the duration of totality. Even with cloud cover it's a stunning experience.
Jon, UK

I must confirm what Jon said. I saw the last eclipse in Zambia, and it is the most awesome experience. There is a total difference between a partial and total eclipse.
Halley, UK

Gaborone was a great disappointment as there was almost 100% cloud cover in the morning this year!
Charles, Botswana

Never look at the Sun without protection and always supervise children.

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