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CHOCO
Dec 4th, 2002, 05:34 PM
http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/images/I7548-2002Dec04
The diamond ring effect is pictured during the solar eclipse as seen in southern Zimbabwe on Wednesday. The eclipse was seen from central Angola across to southern Mozambique.


http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/homepage/hp12-4-02d.jpg
Tourists using safe-viewing equipment watch the solar eclipse from Australia. (Reuters)


http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/homepage/hp12-4-02a.jpg
Two brothers watch the total solar eclipse at Tshipidzi village in Venda, South Africa. (AP)

By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 4, 2002; 6:45 AM


KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa, Dec. 4--Nature's version of rolling blackouts swept through southern Africa this morning, as a total solar eclipse darkened the region for the last time until 2030.

The heart of the eclipse--the "totality," where the path of the moon completely obscured the sun--passed over Angola, southwestern Zambia, northern Botswana, southern Zimbabwe, northern South Africa and southern Mozambique en route to the Indian Ocean. In a region reeling from war, famine, drought and disease, some people saw the 90-second flash of night in the morning as a hopeful sign of better times ahead. Others saw it as proof of the anger of the gods.

Others didn't see it very well at all. It was an unusually cloudy day.

"Adding insult to injury!" joked Gavin Hochfelden, a Johannesburg investment banker who had set up his 10-inch Meade telescope in the bush here in northern Kruger Park. After fitting the scope with a homemade protective filter cut out of silvery polymer film and a cardboard cracker box, he didn't even get to use it, because the sky wasn't bright enough. He had hoped to see Baily's Beads, the dazzling "halo" of the sun's last rays around the moon, but had to settle for "an extremely well-recorded underside of a cloud."

There was a total solar eclipse in southern Africa in June 2001, but there won't be another one until Nov. 25, 2030, so this impoverished region tried to make the most of its temporary diversion. In Phalaborwa outside the Kruger gates, concessionaires hawked commemorative T-shirts, calendars and native crafts. An environmental foundation sponsored by Nelson Mandela urged tourists to help preserve African wildlife. A human rights group protested the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of "casting a dark shadow over southern Africa." NASA sent a team of astronomers to collect data.

Inside the park, visitors from Japan, France, Canada, Germany, the United States and the rest of South Africa set up cameras and barbecues in a clearing near the Shingwedzi Camp. At first, they waited in the bush, alone with the acacia trees, exposed to lions, leopards, elephants and the rest of the park's storied wildlife. But park officials spotted the group from a passing helicopter and sent several rangers armed with Winchester rifles to protect them.

Shortly before 8:30 a.m., the sky began to dim. Most of the action took place behind the clouds--the long-range forecast had predicted a 40 percent likelihood of poor visibility--but the crowd did get a few glimpses of the moon seeming to take a chunk out of the sun as it moved into the sightline. "Is it dark enough for you, all you moaners in the back?" Hochfelden shouted to his children.

"It's magic!" shouted his wife, Cherry.

Naniekie Magoro, the director of a Phalaborwe rural development group called Bambanani Outreach--it's a N'Sotho word for "clenching together" --said that many villagers here see the eclipse as a dangerous portent that the drought and famine that currently threaten 30 million Africans will only get worse. But not Magoro. She prefers to look at the bright side of the darkness. Perhaps, she said, the clouds foreshadowed the coming of long-awaited rains, which will bring better harvests, which will bring better times.

"I think this is a wonderful blessing," said Magoro, who wore a traditional maroon dress and a necklace made of colorful plastic beads. Normally, she said, the necklace would be made of seeds, but the drought has made that impossible. "I think God is getting ready to heal the people. He's been waiting too long."

Magoro's was one of the only black faces in the crowd here yesterday, and she got a lift in a crammed van from a white Dutch family that has helped bankroll her organization. Eight years after the end of apartheid, there is still a tremendous gap between South Africa's white haves and black have-nots. But Manie Kriel, a white politician from Phalaborwa who came to the park to watch the eclipse, said the presence of even a few blacks in an exclusive game park named for an Afrikaaner statesman represented a giant step forward for the new South Africa.

"Ten years ago, this was an all-white preserve," Kriel said. "Now it belongs to the people."

But if the eclipse was a success politically, it was a bit of a bust celestially. As he put together his makeshift telescope, Hochfelden quoted an Afrikaans proverb: A farmer makes a plan. But as farmers in southern Africa know all too well, the weather can ruin all kinds of plans around here. An hour after the barely perceptible eclipse, the sun was shining again in Kruger.

"This wasn't the effect we were hoping for," he said. "Ah well. Next time."


By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 4, 2002; 6:45 AM


KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa, Dec. 4--Nature's version of rolling blackouts swept through southern Africa this morning, as a total solar eclipse darkened the region for the last time until 2030.

The heart of the eclipse--the "totality," where the path of the moon completely obscured the sun--passed over Angola, southwestern Zambia, northern Botswana, southern Zimbabwe, northern South Africa and southern Mozambique en route to the Indian Ocean. In a region reeling from war, famine, drought and disease, some people saw the 90-second flash of night in the morning as a hopeful sign of better times ahead. Others saw it as proof of the anger of the gods.

Others didn't see it very well at all. It was an unusually cloudy day.

"Adding insult to injury!" joked Gavin Hochfelden, a Johannesburg investment banker who had set up his 10-inch Meade telescope in the bush here in northern Kruger Park. After fitting the scope with a homemade protective filter cut out of silvery polymer film and a cardboard cracker box, he didn't even get to use it, because the sky wasn't bright enough. He had hoped to see Baily's Beads, the dazzling "halo" of the sun's last rays around the moon, but had to settle for "an extremely well-recorded underside of a cloud."

There was a total solar eclipse in southern Africa in June 2001, but there won't be another one until Nov. 25, 2030, so this impoverished region tried to make the most of its temporary diversion. In Phalaborwa outside the Kruger gates, concessionaires hawked commemorative T-shirts, calendars and native crafts. An environmental foundation sponsored by Nelson Mandela urged tourists to help preserve African wildlife. A human rights group protested the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, accusing him of "casting a dark shadow over southern Africa." NASA sent a team of astronomers to collect data.

Inside the park, visitors from Japan, France, Canada, Germany, the United States and the rest of South Africa set up cameras and barbecues in a clearing near the Shingwedzi Camp. At first, they waited in the bush, alone with the acacia trees, exposed to lions, leopards, elephants and the rest of the park's storied wildlife. But park officials spotted the group from a passing helicopter and sent several rangers armed with Winchester rifles to protect them.

Shortly before 8:30 a.m., the sky began to dim. Most of the action took place behind the clouds--the long-range forecast had predicted a 40 percent likelihood of poor visibility--but the crowd did get a few glimpses of the moon seeming to take a chunk out of the sun as it moved into the sightline. "Is it dark enough for you, all you moaners in the back?" Hochfelden shouted to his children.

"It's magic!" shouted his wife, Cherry.

Naniekie Magoro, the director of a Phalaborwe rural development group called Bambanani Outreach--it's a N'Sotho word for "clenching together" --said that many villagers here see the eclipse as a dangerous portent that the drought and famine that currently threaten 30 million Africans will only get worse. But not Magoro. She prefers to look at the bright side of the darkness. Perhaps, she said, the clouds foreshadowed the coming of long-awaited rains, which will bring better harvests, which will bring better times.

"I think this is a wonderful blessing," said Magoro, who wore a traditional maroon dress and a necklace made of colorful plastic beads. Normally, she said, the necklace would be made of seeds, but the drought has made that impossible. "I think God is getting ready to heal the people. He's been waiting too long."

Magoro's was one of the only black faces in the crowd here yesterday, and she got a lift in a crammed van from a white Dutch family that has helped bankroll her organization. Eight years after the end of apartheid, there is still a tremendous gap between South Africa's white haves and black have-nots. But Manie Kriel, a white politician from Phalaborwa who came to the park to watch the eclipse, said the presence of even a few blacks in an exclusive game park named for an Afrikaaner statesman represented a giant step forward for the new South Africa.

"Ten years ago, this was an all-white preserve," Kriel said. "Now it belongs to the people."

But if the eclipse was a success politically, it was a bit of a bust celestially. As he put together his makeshift telescope, Hochfelden quoted an Afrikaans proverb: A farmer makes a plan. But as farmers in southern Africa know all too well, the weather can ruin all kinds of plans around here. An hour after the barely perceptible eclipse, the sun was shining again in Kruger.

"This wasn't the effect we were hoping for," he said. "Ah well. Next time."

Grant
Dec 4th, 2002, 06:03 PM
thanks for posting this choco :)

it was an awesome sight! my mother woke me up this morning and got me out of bed to go and look at it lol. then she give me these glasses that look like they are from outer space and told me to watch lol.

it was well worth it :)

gmt
Dec 4th, 2002, 07:50 PM
On a side note - funny that the caption mentions Venda, I thought that the name hadn't been used since the days of apartheid and bantustans!

gmt
Dec 4th, 2002, 07:51 PM
Oops I mean for the place, of course. Obviously the Venda people hasn't ceased to exist ;)

MarcusRock
Dec 4th, 2002, 08:08 PM
I've been dying to see a real total solar eclipse but so far, no luck. I travelled to try and view the one in southwest England a few years back but that was unsuccessful in the land of rain and clouds :rolleyes: What was cool was how the entire countryside went dark in a matter of seconds during full eclipse but I still want to SEE the sun get eclipsed and maybe even get a peek at some solar flares. Maybe soon.

Scotso
Dec 4th, 2002, 09:33 PM
ooooo pretty :D