Stargazers applauded as they were plunged into darkness Sunday when the moon passed in front of the sun in a spectacular "ring of fire" eclipse.
Astronomersand enthusiasts in Argentina were among the first to see the so-called annular eclipse as it crossed South America shortly after 1200 GMT, on course for Africa.
Staring up through special telescopes, protective glasses or homemade cardboard pinhole devices, they watched the Sun all but disappear briefly as the Moon crossed its path.
Theeclipse was most visible in a 100-kilometer (62-mile) band across Chile, Argentina, Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Around300 stargazers gathered in a remote spot near the southern city of Sarmiento, the point in Argentina where the eclipse left just a bright ring in the dark sky.
'Ring Of Fire'
An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon and Sun line up.
Buteven when perfectly aligned, the Moon is too far from Earth to completely block out the Sun, creating instead the impression of a fieryring.
Locals in theprovince of Chubut around Sarmiento said they noted changes in the height of the tide and animals acting unusually.
Experts say that as the day darkens, birds and animals enter a night-time routine, thinking sunset is night.
At the height of the eclipse the Moon is right in the middle of the Sun, leaving a perfect ring of light around the edge.
It takes about two hours for the Moon to move across the face of the Sun, but the "ring of fire" peak lasts a mere minute.
Startingin the southeast Pacific Ocean at sunrise, the eclipse passed over southern Chile then Argentina before sweeping over the South Atlantic.