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Solar eclipse seen across the UAE

posted on 04/11/2013: 2151 views

People across the UAE on Sunday witnessed a partial solar eclipse, one of nature's grand shows, as astronomers enjoyed the spectacle and many others offered special prayers.

Though witnessed partially in the Middle East, the eclipse was total in some parts of the world and classified as hybrid by scientists. Hybrid solar eclipses are described as rare and the last one was in 2005 and the next will occur some 10 years later on April 20, 2023.

A large number of people gathered at Jumeirah Beach in Dubai, Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, and Abu Dhabi Corniche and witnessed the eclipse though the horizon was slightly covered by layers of dust. "It's a natural event and we observed it…that's it,” said Amjad Islam, a visitor at Jebel Hafeet. He said people attach superstition to eclipses but he does not believe in them.

Ganish Chandraswami, another expatriate, said he witnessed the eclipse amid prayers. "It is a heavenly event and carries special meanings as per Vedic astrology,” he said. It was, however, an exciting occasion for him to be able to see the eclipse.

The eclipse started at 5.18pm just before sunset, giving a narrow window of opportunity to stargazers to watch it as the sun set at 5.37pm. Depending on weather conditions, it was visible from most UAE emirates including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, Sharjah, and Ajman.

Atif Hassan, an astronomer in Al Ain, said the eclipse started as an annular eclipse, with the ring of fire around the sun disk but later morphed into a total solar eclipse. The total eclipse was only visible over a narrow path passing through the North Atlantic Ocean and parts of Africa.

Some astronomy groups in the UAE usually make arrangements for people to view the phenomenon with special equipment. According to NASA, the perfect place for viewing the total solar eclipse was Gulu, a city in northern Uganda, parts of Congo, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Hassan said there are four types of solar eclipse — partial, annular, total, and hybrid. In the hybrid eclipse, he said, the moon's umbra [the dark inner shadow] and antumbra (the shadow extending beyond the umbra) shadows traverse the Earth.

Hybrid eclipses are also known as annular-total eclipses. During the five thousand year period 2000 BC to 3000 AD, he said, the earth has experienced 11,898 solar eclipses. Among all of these eclipses, just 569 were hybrid. It means only 4.8 per cent of all the solar eclipses were hybrid, said Hassan.

Solar eclipses have been observed throughout human history. Ancient records of eclipses were made in China and Babylonia. Scientists believe that the oldest records were made more than 4,000 years ago. People living in all the regions of the world associate solar and lunar eclipses with different myths and rituals. – Gulf News


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