Dangers of watching today’s solar eclipse with naked eyes
• NARSDA, UNN set up viewing centres
• Lagos to witness 80% darkness, Abuja 60%
As the country witnesses the eclipse of the sun today, experts have warned against watching it with naked eyes.
The eclipse is expected to occur between 7:15 a.m. and 10:03 a.m. with slight variations in actual timing across the country.
In Lagos, the first contact will occur around 7:15 a.m. while the maximum eclipse will occur about 8:30 a.m. and will end by 10:03a.m., going by the predictions by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) in Abuja.
The solar eclipse is expected to commence in Abuja around 7:17 a.m., with the maximum eclipse to be experienced around 8:32 a.m. and end around 10:00 a.m.
NARSDA confirmed yesterday that the highest degree of obscurity in Nigeria during this natural occurrence would be in the southern part of the country. Particularly, obscurity is expected to be 80 per cent in Lagos.
Scientists and other members of the public, including school children, are expected to meet at various locations in the country to view the exciting phenomenon.
But there is general poor enlightenment about the development, a situation that has elicited subtle panic as many don’t have full information about the development.
NARSDA announced yesterday that it had made adequate arrangements for the occurrence to be viewed at a space centre in Abuja.
The leader of Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Prof. Augustine Ubachukwu, warned against viewing the eclipse with naked eyes.
In a circular to the university community obtained by The Guardian, he spoke of plans to help people in the institution and its environment observe the eclipse without risk to their eyes.
His words: “On September 1, 2016, the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating a brilliant ring of sunlight visible from Nsukka.
“When the moon creates a ring of sunlight during an eclipse, instead of completely blocking the solar disk, it is known as an annular eclipse. And although the September 1 event won’t be a total eclipse of the sun (from south eastern part of the country), it will still be a stunning sight of partial solar eclipse.
“For those interested in watching this eclipse event, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group of this university is making special viewing glasses (eclipse glass) available at the Christ Church Chapel field, UNN, starting by 7.30 a.m. Please never look directly at the sun with your unprotected eyes.
“Viewers will be able to see the moon cross paths with the sun on September 1 (Thursday) between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.”
It was learnt that in Sokoto and other parts of Northern Nigeria, the darkness level would be about 45 per cent. The region would witness the lowest degree of darkness during the eclipse.
The eclipse, which is described as ‘annular’ will be observed as a partial or near-total one across the country with the Federal Capital Territory expected to record about 60 per cent darkness.
The Head, Media and Corporate Communications of NASRDA, Dr. Felix Ale, said the agency had arranged a viewing centre to enable members of the public to view the eclipse, using specially designed viewing instruments provided by the organisation.
Ale, who described the eclipse as an astronomical event, and an occurrence of nature for man to behold, said it could not be viewed with the naked eyes as this could cause permanent damage to them.