People across Asia from the Middle East to southeast of the continent are witnessing on Thursday December 26th an annular solar eclipse, which is also known as a ‘ring of fire’, a rare astronomical phenomenon, AFP has reported.
Hundreds of people from the United Arab Emirates, to India, and Singapore were keen to watch the rare annular solar eclipse, which occurs when the Moon is not close enough to the Earth to completely obscure the Sun, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible.
While these types of eclipses occur every year or two, they are only visible from a narrow band of Earth each time and it can be decades before the same pattern is repeated.
In the United Arab Emirates, scores of people gathered at Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Dubai to watch the spectacular sight. The annular phase of this eclipse was not totally visible in Abu Dhabi, it was however, observed there as a partial solar eclipse where the Moon covered a large portion of the Sun.
In Singapore, hundreds of amateur astronomers, photographers gathered at the harbour to watch what some described as a "once in a lifetime" event.
"The next one will happen in about 40 years I think," said Jason Teng, who took the day off to photograph the eclipse.
The amateur astronomer used a special solar filter on his telescope as there is no safe period to observe an annular solar eclipse.
In India, the eastern state of Odisha declared a public holiday, with all government offices, courts, schools, and colleges closed to mark the event.
But in New Delhi, cloud blocked the view and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his disappointment, although only a partial eclipse would have been visible that far north.
"Like many Indians I was enthusiastic about solareclipse2019," Modi said.
"Unfortunately, I could not see the Sun due to cloud cover but I did catch glimpses of the eclipse in Kozhikode and other parts on live stream."
In Sri Lanka, people gathered to witness the partial annular solar eclipse, while in Indonisia's Siak Regency on the island of Sumatra, enthusiasts were much luckier as they observed a total eclipse.