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01.02.2006 Education

Education campaign on solar eclipse launched


Accra, Feb 01, GNA - The Ministry of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City on Wednesday launched an education campaign towards sensitising the public on the eclipse of the sun expected on March 29. The sensitisation would stress the dangers associated with viewing the total solar eclipse with the naked eye and ways to prevent people, especially school children, from harming their eyes.

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, who launched the campaign said, "The exciting privilege of witnessing a total eclipse, however, comes with a price, which if care is not exercised and the necessary precautions taken, would be painfully and expensively paid."

He announced that one million specially made solar goggles had been imported by Pepsi Cola Company and urged private sector organizations to help by importing more of such goggles for use on the day.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey reiterated that watching a total solar eclipse with the naked eye could cause painless injury to the eye and could lead to irreversible and irreparable damage to the eye.

The Minister further launched two publications, a book and a flyer, that contain questions and answers about the eclipse and relevant information needed to help an individual know all about the eclipse and specifically how to protect the eye from harm on the day. He cautioned that the eclipse was a natural phenomenon and it should not be linked with superstition.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the public should take full advantage of the March 29 eclipse to educate, excite and entertain themselves. Quoting Patrick Moore, a famous British Astronomer, he said, "There is nothing in nature to rival the glory of a total eclipse."

Dr Amamoo-Otchere, Executive Director for the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Service (CERGIS), said the eclipse would move from the north-eastern coast of South America and cross the Atlantic Ocean to reach Ghana, crossing Southern Ghana, Southern Togo and Central Benin, South-Western and Central Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Libya and Egypt.

Of the seven countries in Africa, Ghana would be the first to experience it at 0908 hours. Scientists have predicted that the period would last about three minutes 44 seconds.

In Ghana the first communities to observe the event would be the coastal settlements between Asini and Busua in the Western Region with Busua Beach Hotel being one of the best places in the neighbourhood for tourists to gain more than three minutes of experiencing the twilight darkness.

Sekondi-Takoradi, Ho, Cape-Coast, Koforidua would be regional capitals that would be plunged into darkness. Along the coast, some high grounds would offer some advantages - spots on high hills at Anomabo, Marcarthy Hill overlooking the Densu plain, Shai Hills and Aburi Hills at Peduase would be possible viewing spots.

Accra would experience the passing shadow for about two minutes 58 seconds. Other areas that would experience the events include Tarkwa, Prestea, Akim Oda and Kade but Obuasi would miss it or see it partially. Dr Amamoo-Otchere, however, said the greatest obstruction to observing the solar eclipse could be the presence of clouds in the sky and urged Ghanaians to be cautious of the weather during that time.

He further said a pair of paper-framed welder's goggles and specially made eclipse shades would be the best to observe the eclipse. He explained that the ordinary sunglasses and goggles did not contain silver halide, which was capable of filtering the harmful rays of the sun, hence would not protect the eyes from the sunrays. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is between the sun and the earth and its shadow moves across the face of the earth resulting in total darkness. 01 Feb. 06