Uganda prepares to impress tourists ahead of a rare solar eclipse

by Fran
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Uganda will be the center of attention as a hybrid solar eclipse is expected for 3 November 2013.
Uganda will be the center of attention as a hybrid solar eclipse is expected for 3 November 2013.
  • Uganda is preparing to welcome between 10,000 and 30,000 this weekend as people across the world are making their way to northern Uganda to witness a very rare solar eclipse.
  • Uganda's northern regions including the towns Nebbi, Arua, Soroti, Masindi and Gulu have been identified as the prime locations for observing the solar eclipse.
  • Apart from preparing with extra security and even infrastructure upgrading, Ugandan officials have even more in mind: using this opportunity to showcase their country's natural wonders.
  • Tourists are encouraged to stay a while longer following the eclipse, and to experience true Ugandan hospitality and natural wildlife that will impress as much as this historic astronomical event.

Uganda is gearing up for the witnessing of a historic astronomical event – a hybrid solar eclipse.  Astronomers and amateur enthusiasts across the globe will have their eyes glued to the sky on 3 November.  A confirmed 10,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Uganda for this event, and the Ugandan ministry has reported that the number of tourists for this event could be as much as 30,000 people.  But apart from this incredible phenomenon, Uganda is ready to show the world even more.

Hybrid solar eclipse explained

Astronomers explained that the predicted solar eclipse will bear resemblance to both an annular eclipse and a total solar eclipse, hence why it is described as a hybrid eclipse.  What happens in those few moments of temporary darkness is that the sun is obscured by the passing moon, shadowing the Earth from the otherwise sunshine.  With this hybrid eclipse, the eclipse will take the form of an annular eclipse in its first few minutes, followed by the characteristics of a total eclipse when the moon is closest to the Earth.  This type of solar eclipse is incredibly rare – the previous hybrid eclipse was observed in 1466, the next is only schedule a hundred years from now. 

Where the hybrid eclipse will be visible

Although all of Africa, including parts of Europe and the East Coast of the United States will be able to observe the solar eclipse, Northern Uganda will be the prime location to observe this event before sunset.  The Northern region, including the towns Nebbi, Arua, Soroti, Masindi and Gulu have been identified as the very best spots to observe the solar eclipse – Uganda will be the world’s envy come 3 November!  Public places and venues such as local schools will serve as temporary astronomical houses and public solar spotting locations.  Yet Ugandan officials are wholeheartedly aware of the onus on their shoulders, having spent the past weeks preparing for tight security and even completing some smaller infrastructure and public venue upgrading projects. 

More than just solar eclipse for Uganda

Although Uganda and its people are attentive to the importance of this remarkable astronomical event and the sheer privilege to act as global host for this natural phenomenon, its officials announced that the opportunity will also be used to showcase Uganda’s natural beauty and wildlife.  Hence why Uganda is encouraging eclipse tourists to stay in the country for a while longer after the eclipse.  Because apart from this historic event, Uganda’s White Nile, Rift Valley gorges, wildlife, and more offer splendid African experiences.  Tourists looking for some inspiration are referred to Uganda’s so-called Seven Natural Wonders, including Mount Stanely and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with its precious family. 

Weather forecast

Since the total solar eclipse are highly dependent on fair weather and open skies, all eyes are on the weather forecasts for the upcoming days.  For now, the forecasts are looking favorable with only morning showers and morning clouds predicted. Temperatures are expected to be warm, but with a fair degree of humidity.

In many ways, the upcoming solar eclipse is Uganda’s time to shine.  With between 10,000 and 30,000 tourists expected to move through Uganda’s foreign visitor custom departments in a matter of days, this country has an opportunity like none before to make its mark in the international tourism arena.  And with Uganda’s natural attractions, one cannot otherwise but believe that tourists will linger in this beautiful country after the skies have taken to sunshine again.    

Sources and credits

Photo credits: some rights reserved by MarkGregory007 via flickr [Creative Commons]

A word of caution: observing a solar eclipse with the naked eye can cause permanent blindness. Astronomers recommend observing the eclipse with the use of solar eclipse goggles.  

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