People in Oman witness a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse

Energy Sunday 21/June/2020 19:03 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: People across Oman witnessed a solar eclipse they will likely not see again in their lives, on Sunday, 21 June.
The phenomenon began at 8:14 in the morning, and ended three hours and six minutes later, at 11:20 am. While this partial eclipse was visible to most people in the country, the annular eclipse lasted for just 50 seconds, from 52 seconds past 9:38 am, to 43 seconds past 9:39 am, and was only visible to people across a strip of the country that is just 30 kilometres wide.
The eclipse entered Oman at Quriyat, before making its way over Al Mudhaybi, and then Adam, before moving over the Dhahirah and Wusta governorate and crossing over in Saudi Arabia. Such an eclipse is next expected to take place in 83 years’ time.
“We were the epicentre when it came to this eclipse, and most of the cities near which it passed had a population of 10,000 or more, so we are very lucky to have this band,” said Abdulwahab Al Busaidi, the head of observatory at the Oman Astronomical Society. “When it comes to annual eclipses, this is something that man has begun to look at from day one time of man’s creation.”
“It is not something that they began to look at four or five thousand years ago, but from the time human beings began walking on the earth,” he added. “They looked up and saw day turn into night. In the Indian civilisations, Persian civilisations, Chinese civilisations, Arab civilisations, there have been so many reports of these phenomena, either scientific or factual.”
The Oman Astronomical Society had set up more than 20 observation points across Oman, from where people could safely watch the eclipse. They had, prior to it taking place, also provided a set of guidelines on how it could be watched without causing harm to one’s eyes.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon positions itself between the sun and the earth, while orbiting the planet. This eclipse was annular, which meant the moon superimposed itself over nearly all of the sun, leaving just its edges visible, causing an astronomical occurrence known as the ring of fire. About 98 percent of the surface of the sun was obscured by the moon and its shadow.
“The event that took place was long awaited,” said Dr Saleh Al Shidhani, the former president of the Oman Astronomical Society. “Last December, we had another annular eclipse, and that provoked a lot of interest.
He added, in the context of generating interest: “We were looking for it this time around as well. We were basically eager to see this, and this has automatically introduced a deep happiness inside us, because we’ve had two annular eclipses inside six months. This was a really interesting period for all of us and I am very happy to see thousands of Omanis observing this eclipse.”