Record Annular Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds

An annular solar eclipse occurred Friday across some countries in the Indian Ocean region. It was the longest annular solar eclipse for the third millennium.annular-solar-eclipse-011510

The eclipse lasted 11 minutes and 7.8 seconds. The next such eclipse that will be longer in duration will be on December 23, 3043. However, the eclipse that occurred on January 4, 1992 was longer at 11 minutes 41 seconds.

The eclipse was visible as only partial eclipse in much of Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It was seen as annular eclipse within a narrow stretch of 300 km (190 mi) width across Central Africa, Maldives, South Kerala in India, South Tamil Nadu in India, North Sri Lanka, parts of Myanmar and parts of China. That’s a path encompassing half of the planet’s surface.

Students in India flocked to the Nehru Observatory. People in Maldives used special cards to view the phenomenon.

In Saudi Arabia, few went to mosques to pray the salatul kusuf, a special prayer said to have bountiful rewards that can only by performed when there is an eclipse. Many people were sleeping, as it was the only resting day in the week.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the sun to look like an annulus (ring), blocking most of the its light. It appears as a partial eclipse over a region thousands of kilometers wide.