What is a Total Solar Eclipse?During a total solar eclipse, the moon travels in between the sun and the earth in such a way that the moon blocks the entire sun. Since the moon is acually a lot smaller than the sun, a total solar eclipse is only visible from a small geographic area. It's all about the angle you're viewing the eclipse from. During an eclipse the sky darkens in the middle of the day and you can even see stars as well as the outer edge of the sun.
The Weather in Africa on 29 March, 2006In order to see a total solar eclipse you want to head for the country with the clearest skies in March. Luckily the University of Manitoba has a detailed analysis on what the weather could be (it's never an exact science after all). Probabilities are calculated based on past years, dust and pollution in the air, cloud cover, rainstorms and so on. As far as I understand, Libya is the winner given the country's penchant for sunny skies in March.
Eye Safety While Viewing a Total Solar EclipseYou can burn your retinas beyond repair if you do not take some basic precautions while viewing a solar eclipse. Sunglasses will not do, they don't offer the right protection. But strangely enough a roll of developed black and white film works nicely. If you are joining a tour you will no doubt be given the right eye gear. But if you're on your own, you can use the following to protect your eyes:
- Welders Goggles
- Specially designed solar filters
- Pinhole Camera
Once the sun is totally blocked by the moon, it is safe to watch without protection. It's just before and after that the damage can occur. For more information see this guide to observing eclipses safely.
Taking photos of the Solar EclipseSolar eclipses can be photographed provided that basic eye safety precautions are followed first (see above). Almost any kind of camera with manual controls can be used to capture this rare event. However, a zoom lens is recommended to produce as large an image of the Sun as possible. NASA has more information on how to take photos (and video) of a total solar eclipse.