LISBON, Portugal (AP) – A rare and spectacular eclipse will dim the morning sky on Monday across a strip of southwestern Europe and eight African countries.

During the event, called an annular eclipse, the moon will mask the sun like a black plate, leaving a bright, fiery rim.

The moon will be too small to blot out the sun completely, as in a total eclipse, because its elliptical orbit has taken it too far from the earth.

However, scientists say the daylight will fade and temperatures will drop slightly as the eclipse travels along a narrow band girdling almost half the planet.

The rim of fire that appears around the moon glows brighter than the corona seen during a total eclipse.

“It’s quite spectacular,” said Dr. Stephen Maran, an astronomer with the American Astrological Society in Washington.

“I wouldn’t miss it if I was over there, because it’s rare,” Maran said by telephone.

The phenomenon does not include North America and will not be visible from the United States.

The eclipse’s 31/2 hour path first traverses Portugal and Spain, including the capital, Madrid, and the Balearic Islands.

It then moves on to Africa toward Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, southeast Ethiopia, Kenya and the southern tip of Somalia. It ends with the sunset in the Indian Ocean.

The Iberian peninsula has not witnessed an annular eclipse since 1912 and will not see another one until 2028.

Outside that band, a partial eclipse will be visible through protective eyewear over most of Europe, the Middle East, India and a large chunk of Africa.

Authorities are reminding the public to avoid looking at the sun without eye protection.

In Spain, where the event has stirred keen anticipation, opticians selling 1 million special protective glasses at $3.70 each said Friday they had virtually sold out.

In Portugal, the General Directorate for Health was distributing free glasses with daily newspapers.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.