Campus celebrates Spring with Solar Eclipse

Mafumane Tlhapi -- Fri, 09/09/2016 - 10:34

Campus celebrates Spring with Solar Eclipse

The Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) celebrated Spring Day by inviting staff, students, schools and the local community to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse that was visible from 10:00 to 12:00 on 1 September. Spectators were provided with solar viewers allowing them to safely look at the sun. 

Astronomy lecturer Dr Bruno Letarte said that eclipses are a natural phenomenon involving geometry and position. They occur occasionally in our planet, this year the Mafikeng Campus was well positioned to witness a 36% partial eclipse of the sun. The moon was in a direct line of sight to cover part of the surface of the sun.

The rare event started at around 10:00 and ended at 12 pm. During its occurrence Bruno explained to small groups of students, staff as well as the public about solar eclipse. "Solar eclipses happen when the moon moves between the sun and earth, blocking the sun's disk and casting a shadow on earth," he explained.

The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa says an eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. Instead of seeing the sun as a round disc, it will have a "bite" out of it. During the event the department provided everyone with solar viewers allowing them to look at the sun in safety.

The event was a dazzling crowd-pleaser as it had put on a brilliant show for those fortunate enough to find themselves positioned along the centre line of the eclipse path. Annular solar eclipses are a close relative to total eclipses in that we see them when the moon passes directly in front of the sun from our vantage point on earth.