A solar eclipse in the climate records

a surprising note among all the numbers...

Digitizing the climate records in the State Archives is a repetitive process. Boxes of archives are retrieved from the lower levels of the archive building. Each climate station has its own folder which is stored together with other folders in boxes. Each archive box is thus filled with about 10 folders of climate records. Some stations hold only rainfall data (these we don’t digitize), other stations hold rainfall and temperature data, or more (these are all digitized).

A day spent digitizing in the State Archives consists of systematically opening each box to examine the climate data in each folder. Sometimes a surprise is folded into the station data. For example, last week we found a note of a solar eclipse that passed over Kikongo on February 24th, 1933. Kikongo, as the record states, lies in the District Kwango, Territory Bas-Kwila, in the Province of Congo-Kasai. This is roughly 70 km east of Kwenge the capital of what is currently called Kwango Province, DRC.

The eclipse was an annular eclipse, which means that the diameter of the moon’s shadow did not quite completely obscure the sun, leaving a ring of fire or annulus. Such eclipses occur when the moon is farthest from Earth. The 24/02/1933 eclipse was visible from Chile, Argentina, Congo-Brazzaville, DRC, C.A.R., Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen.

Fig 1. - Solar eclipse 24 February 1933 © State Archive (COBECORE).