Iraq to host "clear view" of last solar eclipse of millennium

BAGHDAD, July 16 (South News) -An Iraqi university is setting up a camp for enthusiasts to enjoy what it hopes to be one of the world's clearest views of the last solar eclipse of the millennium, newspapers reported on Wednesday.

The site will be located northeast of Mosul, he said, quoted in the papers. The best meteorological prospects along the entire eclipse path are in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. The probability of seeing the eclipse steadily increases from 70 to 86 percent as the path crosses this area.

The total eclipse starts off the coast of Nova Scotia and travels at about 1,500miles an hour across the Atlantic. It makes landfall at Britain's Isles of Scilly and then passes over France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania,Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

Weather experts say Britain faces only a 45 percent chance of witnessing the eclipse in its totality because of likely cloud covering. Qabis Saeed, dean of Mosul University in northern Iraq, said the facility would be equipped with "all the necessary equipment ... to catch an 85-percent chance of viewing  the eclipse" on August 11.

Iraqi astronomers have invited UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to visit the sanctions-hit country to view next month's eclipse

Saeed charged that the US space agency NASA had come under political pressure from Washington and London before deciding to set up a similar site in neighbouring Kurdish southern Turkey rather than Iraq. Despite Turkey being hard pressed to guarantee visitor safety following the capture of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Related: University of Mosul astronomical & astrophysical conference (09-10 August)