Excitement, Trepidation over Sunday’s Solar Eclipse in Nigeria

While many expressed excitement over the astronomical event that will have the earth thrown into temporal or partial darkness as the moon blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the earth in Nigeria on Sunday, November 3, as predicted by the Nigeria Space Research And Development Agency (NASDRA), some hesitate that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen and a few indifferent.
 
Daily Timesspoke with a cross section of Nigerians; though most of them claimed they never got the information.
 
Excitement
 
To these set of people, they eagerly anticipate and see it as a tourist attraction.
 
A medical doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ololade Onasanya said she didn’t hear about it and doesn’t know if it will happen in this part of the world.
 
Expressing her excitement over the eclipse, she said: “I don’t have much to say but I’m so excited, I can’t wait to witness it. And if I’m not caught up in the theatre, I’ll take a picture of it to show my unborn children. Seriously, I think it happens once in 25 years or something.”
 
An Abuja based lawyer, Barrister Nanyak Janfa said it will be an interesting sight to behold.
 
“Although I am not a scientist, it will be an interesting sight for me. I think it will be interesting for anyone under the sun because it is not something that happens often. The last time I heard of such was so many years ago and people even bought glasses hoping to witness it in details. I hope this time around it will be more glaring.”
 
Speaking indifferently, Arisilejoye Adebayo, a  filmmaker and cinematographer said: “I’m indifferent about it because it adds nothing to nothing but for the pictures I would like to  say I really don’t care.”
 
For another Abuja based legal practitioner, Mr. Echezona Mogbo, it’s a natural phenomenon that everyone should experience.
 
“It’s a once in a lifetime event that we should enjoy. It has no spiritual undertones like people will want to ascribe.”
 
Though, there are superstitious beliefs attached to it according to Kenny Akinsanya, a student of economics at the Lagos State University, “It’s going to be great being one of the  wonders and an event that happens once in 5-8 years.”
 
Tosin Olumide said, “we will calmly wait for it, after all we were told by the europeans and not our so called scientists. I’m just going to pick my sunglasses and look straight into the heavens when it happens.”
 
With smiles, Mrs. Aronke Emmanuel, a mother of two said she looks forward to having such experience.
 
“I didn’t even know there would be a solar eclipse but it happens. It’s a cyclical experience and its expected; it’s not harmful,so I look forward to it.”
 
An Enugu-based business man, Oscar Mba wished the solar eclipse would be for one week. “I wish it won’t be partial. I wish it will be total for one week or more just to have a taste of something different; the weather will be mild.”
 
A pastor of Living Faith Church, Pastor Emmanuel Adeyinka said the eclipse is a scientific calculation but only what God says is permitted.
 
“That is a scientific calculation, nobody knows tomorrow because only what God says stands permanent. Though, it has happened before, it’s just an orbital change,” Pastor Adeyinka said.
 
Fears
 
However, not everybody is looking forward to the eclipse as it is stirring up fears based on ancient superstitions.
 
Mrs. Caroline Taiwo, a petty trader said: “I hope God is not trying to punish us for all our wrongs. I will have to put everything in order before Sunday, ensure my children are locked in and cook all we will eat on Saturday. I pray God diverts this to another place, not here.”
 
 
Another woman sitting tight for fear said:  “This is serious. The world is definitely coming to an end. My mother once told me this thing is a bad omen and we have to be careful.”
 
NASDRA Information
 
However, the Director General of the Nigeria Space Research And Development Agency (NASDRA), Dr Sa’idu Mohammed said the eclipse will come in three phases; a partial eclipse at about 1.00 pm when the moon will touch the edge of the sun, the maximum eclipse shortly before 3.00pm when the moon is expected to be closest to the centre and shortly after 4.00pm when the moon will leave the sun’s edge.
 
Superstitious Beliefs
 
Eclipses have been known to produce panic in some parts of the world where superstitions are strong or where the science of eclipses is not well understood. In many cultures, eclipses are bad omens, often caused by demons, angry gods or some terrifying force.
 
The Vikings believed that eclipses were caused when the sun or moon was caught by the two giant wolves that chase them.
 
In 2001, a lunar eclipse in Nigeria triggered a riot among some youths believing the eclipse was caused by sin.
 
A superstition with rather more common sense behind it holds that anyone holding a knife during an eclipse will cut themselves. Also, one has it that if a pregnant woman goes out during an eclipse, her baby will be born blind or with a cleft lip.
 
However, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s light and casting a shadow on the Earth that “races at some 1,400 miles an hour (2,250 kilometres an hour) along a line called the path of totality,” explains National Geographic.
 
People within the path of totality, usually about 100 miles wide and never more than 167 miles, can see a total eclipse, where all but the corona is blocked out by the moon’s shadow, the umbra. This is due to a “strange coincidence,” explains the Exploratorium. Though the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, the moon is 400 times closer to the Earth, so they appear to be the same since to someone watching in the path of totality.
 
The Exploratorium, a science museum at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, provides Web casts of seven total eclipses since 1998 and offers tips on how to watch one.
 
An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. Nevertheless, in some ancient and modern cultures, solar eclipses have been attributed to supernatural causes or regarded as bad omen. A total solar eclipse can be frightening to people who are unaware of its astronomical explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes.
 
Caution
 
Dr. Mohammed stated that there is no cause for alarm and Nigerians should not panic.
 
Since looking directly at the Sun can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness, special eye protection or indirect viewing techniques are used when viewing a solar eclipse.
 
It is technically safe to view only the total phase of a total solar eclipse with the unaided eye and without protection, however this is a dangerous practice as most people are not trained to recognize the phases of an eclipse which can span over two hours while the total phase can only last up to 7.5 minutes for any one location.

Culled from DailyTimes Ng

Posted by Salmon Abiodun

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