BY THE MINISTER OF TOURISM, WILDLFIE AND ANTIQUITIES,
HON. DR. MARIA MUTAGAMBA
Friday, 18th November, 2013
On the 3rd November 2013, the World will witness a total Solar Eclipse. The Solar Eclipse is an extra ordinary geographical phenomenon of the movement of the solar system; the moon shields the sun and creates a temporary darkness. Most of this eclipse will occur over the Atlantic Ocean with the only landfall being in Africa across relatively large areas of sparsely inhabited rain forest in the Congo.
Hybrid'eclipse is a rare form of solar eclipse, which changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse along its path. The hybrid eclipse is the rarest of the four types of solar eclipses. It is caused when the moon passes in front of the sun and casts a shadow on the surface of the Earth.
What is significant about the November 3rd eclipse is that according to NASA's calculations only 7 of its kinds have occurred since Christ. The last hybrid eclipse is believed to have occurred on March 16th 1466 and the next one is forecast for June 3rd 2114.
Uganda has been identified as the best location in the World to view the eclipse with the following places specifically giving the vantage point- Pakwach , Arua, Soroti, Masindi and Gulu. Pakwach being the best of the listed to watch the eclipse and Owiny Primary school in Pakwach has been identified as the best location to view the Solar Eclipse. The eclipse will take place on Sunday, 3rd November 2013 at 04:15pm. in Uganda.
This natural occurrence will attract international and domestic travelers to these regions to witness the Solar Eclipse. In this respect, the tourism sector views this as an opportunity to raise the visibility of the country and attract more visitors for this event and promote other attractions in and around the sightseeing areas.
From a tourism development perspective, the solar eclipse event presents a unique and positive opportunity to focus the world's attention on Uganda. The solar eclipse sightings are closely followed by the world media and this occurrence gives the destination wide visibility that Uganda should capitalize on.
The event will attract many tourists and people who observe the Solar System who will be flocking into the country to see this phenomenon; thereby increasing visibility of the country and the tourist arrivals and subsequent inflows of foreign exchange.
The solar eclipse is a rare event and hence the need to inform all Ugandans and in particular the young and school going children to prepare and witness the event for their educational enrichment.
The Solar eclipse presents opportunities and linkages that will result from the expected influx of visitors. The communities in the Northern Uganda stand to benefit from this event by selling souvenirs, food and accommodation services, and the tour and transport operators will benefit by providing services to the tourists.
This event presents an opportunity in building and projecting the positive image of the country and the northern region in particular. The northern part of Uganda has suffered an image of war and disease despite the pacification that has taken hold in the recent past. This is an opportunity to showcase the region and dispel negative publicity like invisible children video.
This event also provides an opportunity to showcase Uganda's natural and cultural attractions and the peaceful co existence that thrives. The opportunity will be used to market additional tours and attractions within the region.
The tourism sector has registered bookings from tourists coming to Uganda for this event and there is growing interest and pressure for accommodation services in areas where the solar sighting will happen. In this regard, Government saw the need to prepare the communities within the solar eclipses sighting to prepare and economically benefit from the influx of visitors.
Cabinet at its 37th meeting September 2013 constituted a Cabinet Committee to work out the requirements of giving a face lift to Owiny Primary school and providing amenities to cater for the influx of people expected to visit the site to witness the total solar eclipse of the sun on 3rd November 2013. At the sametime, a technical committee was constituted to carry out preparations of the Event.
Uganda will carry out a number of activities in preparation of and awareness creation of the Total Solar Eclipse to the public ahead of and during the main event to take place on 3rd November, 2013. The activities will include the following among others:
- Renovation of Owinyi Primary School: There will be a facelift of the School and provision of water facilities at the site.
- Publicity: Both national and international publicity will be done (TV, Radio, and Print Media etc).
- Production of the Solar Eclipse Promotional Video clip.
- A Monument in commemoration of Uganda's hosting of the Total Solar Eclipse, 2013 will be erected at Owinyi Primary School.
- A Tourism Information Centre including a reception, exhibition area and office will be constructed in Pakwach.
- Familiarisation trip for international Journalists to various tourism sites in the country will be conducted.
- Entertainment will be provided by local Artists
- The Organising Committee is also exploring and informing visitors of the range and alternative accommodation such as home stays, camping, and sanitation services.
The Safety issues associated with the Event are:.
Viewing the sun with the naked eye or with any optical device such as binoculars or a telescope can cause permanent eye damage or blindness, so it is advisable to always use special eye protection such as special solar filters like a camera film.
The permanent eye damage can result from looking at the disk of the sun directly, or through a camera view finder, or with binoculars or a telescope even when only a thin crescent of the sun remains. The 1% of the Sun's surface still visible is about 10,000 times brighter than the full moon. Staring at the sun under such circumstances is like using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight onto tinder. The retina is delicate and irreplaceable.
There is little or nothing a retinal surgeon will be able to do to help you. Never look at the Sun outside of the total phase of an eclipse unless you have adequate eye protection. Children particularly are vulnerable and should be provided with appropriate viewing equipment.
You can view with:
- Certified eclipse viewing glasses
- Pinhole camera
- Welder's Goggles
- Undeveloped Black and white film ( Not colored)
- Water in a basin
Do not use:
- Naked eyes
- Color film
- Developed films
We urge you to bring your family and friends to experience this once in a life time event while exploring the rest of Uganda's Attractions.
For more information please visit the ministry website at www.tourism.go.ug and www.visituganda.co.ug