School children joined adults in awe in countries across Africa and the Middle East as a partial solar eclipse took place today.

The rare event began to be visible in the US, before moving east in visibility across the Atlantic ocean towards Africa.

Locals in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast watched through closed fingers and sunglasses, while Senegalese residents in Dakar did not seem bothered by the rare event.

In Nigeria school children were shown the scene through a specially set up telescope that projected the image onto a box that made it safe to look at, while others used special sunglasses for watching.

The Nigerian Space Research and Development Director General, Saidu Onalo Mohammed, said he wanted to appeal to citizens that might mistake the happening for a mystical event.

The important aspect of it is the fact that this too will demystify the mysteries attached to this in the past, he said.

"The world is not coming to an end; don't sell your properties because there is going to be an eclipse, or start anything, or borrow money to do any sacrifice, that is not the issue," he added.

In Damascus, Syria citizens gathered in Jalaa stadium to watch the event, after the Syrian Astronomy Association invited people to monitor the eclipse that hide 20% of the sun in Damascus and 25% in the south of the country.

The American space agency NASA said the best total eclipse would have been visible somewhere in the Atlantic.