African Eclipse 2002
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Total Solar Eclipse of 2002 December 04

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The final event of the year is a total solar eclipse visible from a narrow corridor that traverses the Southern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in the South Atlantic, crosses southern Africa and the Indian Ocean and ends at sunset in southern Australia. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes most of Africa, western Australia and Antarctica

The umbra carves out a 50 kilometers wide path as it sweeps across Angola, briefly straddling the Angola/Zambia border, crosses eastern Namibia before entering northern Botswana. The umbra crosses completely into Zimbabwe before entering northern South Africa.  The northern third of Kruger National Park is plunged into totality which lasts 1 minute 25 seconds. Quickly crossing southern Mozambique, the shadow leaves the Dark Continent and begins its long trek across the Indian Ocean.

During the next hour and a half, no land is encountered as the eclipse track curves to the northeast and begins to narrow. In the final ninety seconds of its terrestrial trajectory, the umbra traverses South Australia. The coastal town of Ceduna lies at the center of the 35-kilometer wide path. Totality lasts 33 seconds while the Sun stands 9 above the western horizon. The accelerating ground speed of the umbra already exceeds 5 km/s. In the remaining seconds, the increasingly elliptical shadow sweeps across 900 kilometers of the Australian Outback.

A detailed report on this eclipse is available from NASA's Technical Publication series (see: NASA Solar Eclipse Bulletins). Additional information is also available at the 2002 total solar eclipse web site:


2002 Total Solar Eclipse Global Map

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Animation of

Total Solar Eclipse of 2002 December 04

Fred Espenak

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2002 Eclipse Animation

This animation shows the path of the Moon's umbral and penumbral shadows during the total solar eclipse of 2002 December 04. The Universal Time is displayed in the upper right corner as the animation runs. The instantaneous duration of the total eclipse is displayed in the lower right corner.

The eclipse begins as the Moon's penumbral shadow touches down in the equatorial Africa (04:51 UT). The penumbra appears as a large greyish region that sweeps across the Earth from west to east. It is approximately 4,300 miles (6900 km) in diameter. Everyone located within the penumbra's path will see a partial eclipse of the Sun on December 04. Outside the path, no eclipse is visible.

About one hour later (05:50 UT), the Moon's dark umbral shadow appears as a tiny black dot at the center of the penumbra. The umbra is only about 54 miles (87 km) wide as it rushes across the Earth at velocities of 1250 miles per hour (2000 km/hr) or more. To see the total eclipse of the Sun, one must be located in the narrow path of umbra. Because the umbra is so small and is moving so quickly, the total eclipse lasts no more that 2 minutes 4 seconds from any location along its entire path.

From start to finish, the penumbra takes a little over five hours to sweep across the Earth. The umbra takes just over three hours to travel from the South Atlantic, through southern Africa and the Indian Ocean before leaving the Earth's surface in southern Australia.