A full solar eclipse passed over Africa on Sunday, briefly darkening skies as it moved across the continent. The moon began partly blocking out the sun over the central Atlantic early Sunday morning and built to a full eclipse before becoming visible in west Africa

The full eclipse was only visible along a narrow path in Africa that ended over Ethiopia and Somalia.

Solar eclipses occur because of an astronomical coincidence: As viewed from Earth, the moon looks almost the same size as the sun.

While people in the United States saw only a partial eclipse, farther to the east, over the Atlantic Ocean, the moon passed exactly between Earth and the sun. The total eclipse swept across central Africa. It started as an annular eclipse before turning total — astronomers call that a hybrid eclipse.

The usual warnings about solar eclipses applied. People were told not to look directly at the sun without special filters that block ultraviolet light. Sunglasses are not a safe way to watch an eclipse.

news services