Malaysians bask in rare annular eclipse

The phenomenon occurs when the Moon covers the centre of the Sun and leaves a brilliant ring of light around the Moon

by BERNAMA / pic by AFP

THE last annular solar eclipse sighted in the country was 21 years ago and Malaysians yesterday had the opportunity to witness the unique and rare natural phenomenon, particularly in Tanjung Piai, Johor, and Serian, Sarawak.

The annular solar eclipse — with last of such event occurred on Aug 22, 1998, in Mersing, Johor — attracted the public attention who took the opportunity to witness the rare sighting of one of nature’s wonders.

The eclipse, lasted from 1.21pm to 1.23pm in Tanjung Piai, while in Serian, the phenomenon lasted about four minutes from 1.46pm to 1.50pm yesterday.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the centre of the Sun and leaves a brilliant ring of light around the Moon in what observers call a “ring of fire”.

The whole country is believed to have witnessed the solar eclipse phenomenon that occurred from around 11am until 4pm.

At Tanjung Piai National Park, Johor, about 5,000 visitors witnessed the two-minute solar eclipse.

National Planetarium director Anita Bahari said about 120 telescopes were provided by various astronomical research associations and public universities for public use and several units were also designated for study purposes.

In addition, about 6,000 special glasses for viewing the solar eclipse were also provided for free for the public to witness the phenomenon.

The annular solar eclipse phenomenon is expected to occur again in 2042.

Also catching the public’s attention was the presence of the country’s first astrophysicist Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman, who held a special session on annular solar eclipse before joining the crowd to witness the phenomenon.

Her presence undoubtedly had excited the public as she was seen to receive continuous requests to pose for photograph from members of the public to record the historical event together.

In Serian, Sarawak, visitors particularly the locals, witnessed the four-minute eclipse that started at 1.46pm at Piazza Square, about 60km from Kuching.

More than 1,000 visitors enjoyed every minute of the eclipse as the phenomenon will only reoccur after two decades.

Most of them witnessed the spectacular view using some of 2,000 special glasses provided by the organiser, the National Planetarium.

Many even turned up with personal telescopes due to their deep interest in astronomy. Meanwhile, in the capital, people were also witnessing the phenomenon at the National Planetarium compound which organised the Solarfest Malaysia 2019 since Tuesday.

National Planetarium science officer and coordinator for the programme Nurfazilah Mohamad Hanafiah said more than 1,000 people turned up at the National Planetarium grounds to witness the event yesterday.