A giant screen shows the eclipse in Dubai.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Skywatchers from Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and southern China were treated to a rare "ring of fire" solar eclipse on Sunday.
People took solar eclipse glasses for the impressive sight at a number of viewing centres.
So-called annular eclipses occur when the Moon -- passing between Earth and the Sun -- is not quite close enough to our planet to completely obscure sunlight, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible.
They happen every year or two, and can only been seen from a narrow pathway across the planet.
Were the Moon just a wee bit closer — 379,100 rather than 381,500 kilometres away — Earthlings would be treated to a total blackout, visible at a given spot on our planet about every 400 years.
More spectacular, but less long-lived: the exact alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun will be visible for only 38 seconds.
Hundreds of amateur astronomers, photographers and set up by Dubai, Sharajah harbour for what some described as a "once in a lifetime" event.
• View the solar eclipse only through solar eclipse glasses made specifically for safe solar viewing.
• Use only quality filters on telescopes, always put the filters on the telescope to cover the eclipse observation.
• Use only metallic body telescopes and eyepieces to observe the eclipse. Don't use the plastic ones.
• Don't ever look at the sun without proper eye protection.
• Don't view the sun through sunglasses of any type (single or multiple pairs), or filters made from photographic film or any combination of photographic filters, crossed polarisers or gelatin filters, CDs, CD-ROMs, X-Ray films or smoked glass. None of these are safe.
• Don't fit any filter to a telescope without FIRST checking it thoroughly for damage. If it is scuffed, scratched, has pinholes in it, or you have any other doubt about it at all, DON'T use it.
• Don't use binoculars or any viewing device to observe the eclipse.
• To repeat again, if you are not certain that a filter is approved and safe, or you have any other doubts, DON'T USE IT.
Hasan Al Hariri, CEO Dubai Astronomy Group, advises the public to observe this amazing celestial event with precautions. He says this is an opportunity for us to understand the space science and movement of objects surrounding the earth.
The total duration of the eclipse is 5 hours, 34 minutes, starting from 22:43 of 16th July to 04:17 of 17th July.
Depending on weather conditions, this year's astronomical phenomenon was set to be visible from the Middle East across southern India and Southeast Asia before ending over the northern Pacific.
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