‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse thrills skywatchers on longest day
Hong Kong: Skywatchers along a narrow band from west Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East witnessed a dramatic “ring of fire” solar eclipse Sunday.
So-called annular eclipses occur when the Moon -- passing between Earth and the Sun -- is not quite close enough to our planet to completely obscure sunlight, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible.
They happen every year or two, and can only be seen from a narrow pathway across the planet.
Sunday’s eclipse arrived on the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year -- the summer solstice -- when the North Pole is tilted most directly towards the Sun.
It was first visible in northeastern Republic of Congo from 5:56 local time (04:56 GMT) just a few minutes after sunrise.
That was the point of maximum duration, with the blackout lasting a minute and 22 seconds.
Arcing eastward across Africa and Asia, it reached “maximum eclipse” -- with a perfect solar halo around the Moon -- over Uttarakhand, India near the Sino-Indian border at 12:10 local time (0640 GMT).
More spectacular, but less long-lived: the exact alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun was visible for only 38 seconds.
In Nairobi, East Africa, observers saw only a partial eclipse as clouds blocked the sky for several seconds at the exact moment the Moon should have almost hidden the Sun.
Despite some disappointment, Susan Murbana told AFP: “It was very exciting because I think I’m so obsessed with eclipses.
“Today has been very kind to us in terms of the clouds. And we’ve been able to see most of it,” said Murbana who set up the Travelling Telescope educational programme with her husband Chu. - AFP