Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When the eclipse passed by

Longest solar spectacle: wait for next one another 1,000 years- in 3043

The Gulf Today, 16 Jan 2010

The millennium's longest and ring-like solar eclipse turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for thousands of people across the UAE on Friday.
The phenomenon lasted for 11 minutes and eight seconds at its peak over the Indian Ocean. Astronomers of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in Houston said the eclipse was visible on a 300km track that traversed the central Africa, the Indian Ocean and eastern Asia.
Over UAE
As eclipse path travelled over the UAE, the moon obscured up to 34 per cent - a third - of the sun's disk between 9.15am to 12.29 noon over the country's skies between 9.15am and 12.26pm, reaching its peak at 10.46am, according to a senior astronomer.
Hasan Ahmad Al Hariri, Chairman of Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG) told The Gulf Today that the momentous phenomenon of the solar eclipse with the longest duration won't be flashing its presence for another 1,000 years. He pointed out that such a long solar eclipse won't happen again until Dec.23 in the year 3043.
"The annular easily became visible to observers in the UAE, starting from Abu Dhabi and moving on to Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah," he added.
Hundreds delight
Benefited by the weekend holiday, hundreds of astronomy enthusiasts, joining billions of spectators across the world, gathered in various parts of the UAE to have a glimpse of the historic partial eclipse and grab their life's never-to-happen-again experience.
Viewers in the UAE mainly congregated in Sharjah Science Museum's facilities, Dubai's New World Private School, and the Emirates Heritage Club in Abu Dhabi corniche where special telescopes had been set up to observe annular, the first solar eclipse of 2010.
The Emirates Heritage Club's Amateur Astronomy Club arranged a 7-inch Meade telescope on Abu Dhabi Corniche to view the eclipse safely for the public.
The Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG) organised an eclipse observation camp between 9am and 11am at the New World Private School campus located in Tawar area. The observatory witnessed above 600 visitors, out of which 200 were distributed special eclipse glasses that have a darkened film, which blocks 99.99 per cent of the sun's harmful rays, said Al Hariri.
"The organisation set up six observatory telescopes, in which the biggest one was the 16-inch sized Meade LX 400 that projected the size of the sun "live" on a large screen at the school. Other normal telescopes were sized 8-inch, 5-inch and 3-inch solar scopes," he noted.
Hundreds of people have thronged the eclipse observatory in Sharjah's Science Museum, the first interactive Science and Technology Centre in the UAE.
'Annular' wonder
"The phenomenon made up for being the second-best kind of eclipse, also the most favourite one, if we consider the total kinds of solar eclipses, as it offered exceptional duration," Al Hariri added.
The name annular means the outside of the sun. A normal eclipse usually does not last beyond five minutes. So, eleven minutes duration is a rare happening.
Eclipse's path
Al Hariri said the path of the solar eclipse began in the westernmost part of the Central African Republic, and swept through Uganda, Kenya and Southern Somalia.
"After tracking across the Indian Ocean, the eclipse made landfall again between the Southern tip of India and the Northern Sri Lanka. It then swept over the Bay of Bengal to Burma, and then to China," he added. "The partial eclipse was visible within the much broader path of the moon's penumbral shadow, which includes Eastern Europe, most of Africa, Asia, and Indonesia," explained Al Hariri.
Al Hariri gave a scientific account of the Friday's eclipse, "Two big sun spots were visible at this eclipse. The sun spot is a vent where particles are coming out of the inner portion of the sun to the space, as an explosion."
Hundreds of astronomers from across the world moved to Indian Ocean's Maldives, where the eclipse made its presence for the longest duration. The sun was almost totally obscured over the Indian Ocean at 11.06am local time.

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