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Wednesday, 27th June 2012
In General Japan News,

Japanese teacher gifts eclipse glasses to Samoa

A partial solar eclipse is set to cast its shadow on the south Pacific island of Samoa later this year, and thanks to the efforts of a Japanese science teacher over 1,000 children will be able to see it from behind protective glasses.

Protective glasses were used across Japan in May when an annular solar eclipse was observed from the country, and Jinitsu Niinuma decided that they should be reused to allow Samoan school children to enjoy their country's own eclipse.

The 61-year-old middle school teacher set himself a target of collection 1,000 pairs of the glasses and after an internet request from the Sendai Astronomical Observatory he was inundated with donations, Jiji Press reported.

"I hope that observing [the partial eclipse] will make more students want to choose a scientific career," he told the news agency.

"Everybody will be interested in something that happens very rarely."

Mr Jinitsu has worked as a teacher in Sendai for over 30 years, but recently he began working as a volunteer for the National University of Samoa through the Japan International Cooperation Agency's aid programme.

This work helping train the country's teachers was one of the reasons that he decided to embark on his mission.

However, the fact that a partial solar eclipse will be visible on November 14th means some of the glasses used in Japan last month can be recycled, helping more children in Samoa to enjoy the rare astronomical event like their counterparts in Japan.

Discussing the Japanese annular eclipse which occurred on May 20th, he said: "The problem was they were so impressed that they wanted to look at the sun for too long."

In September, Mr Jinitsu will give a presentation to teachers from various Samoan schools on how to look at the eclipse without damaging your eyes, and it is here that he will present them with the glasses.

The kind of eclipse that was visible in Japan is often known as a 'ring of fire' because the location of the moon when it moves in front of the sun leaves a ring of bright light around the edge that appears to be burning.

Written by Mark Smith