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Kenyans witness solar eclipse

Friday January 15 2010

The solar eclipse as witnessed in Kenya's capital Nairobi at 8.30 a.m on January 15, 2010. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

The solar eclipse as witnessed in Kenya's capital Nairobi at 8.30 a.m on January 15, 2010. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL  

By ANTHONY KARIUKI

Kenyans woke up on Friday to witness one of the longest solar eclipse that travelled across several African countries.

In the capital Nairobi, excited residents used their mobile phones to record the rare event that lasted for fifteen minutes.

From around 8.30 a.m, the Earth passed through the moon's shadow resulting in partial darkness.

Outside Nation Centre, scores of Nairobians used sun filters to view the eclipse. They were joined by others, who poured into other Nairobi streets: Tom Mboya, Moi Avenue, Ronald Ngala to capture the eclipse.

In Bungoma, a resident, John Ayugu, said that the town was plunged into semi darkness around 8.30 a.m

"Pupils left their classes and were joined by town residents to have a view of the spectacle," he said.

According to Prof Paul Baki of the University of Nairobi's Department of Physics, a solar eclipse occurs when when the Earth passes through the moon's shadow.

He explained that this happens when the moon  comes between the Earth and the Sun, adding that it takes place at new moon. 

"The three bodies, however, must line on the line of nodes- a straight line running through the meeting of the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun and moon's orbit around the earth.

"This doesn't happen every month!" he quipped.

He said that the phenomenon started in Central Africa, passed through Uganda, Kenya, moved into the Indian Ocean before travelling to India in Asia.

The eclipse was also experienced in Western Kenya towns of Kericho, Mogotio, Mumias and Bungoma.

Prof Baki warned Kenyans not to view the eclipse using the naked eye.

"Remember that you should not look at the Sun directly without appropriate filters. The Sun's rays will destroy your retina."