x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

UAE stargazers will look to the skies on Sunday for partial solar eclipse

From around 6pm, the UAE will be able to see a portion of the sun obscured by the moon, but it will only last for a few minutes before the sun sets.

DUBAI // Stargazers will point their cameras and telescopes to the skies on Sunday in the hope of catching the tail end of a solar eclipse.

From about 6pm, the UAE will be able to see a portion of the sun obscured by the moon – but it will only last for a few minutes before the sun sets, said Hasan Al Hariri, president of Dubai Astronomy Group.

The group will meet at Mamzar Corniche in Deira to try to photograph the event.

“We are not only at the edge of the eclipse, but we are at the edge with the night falling,” said Mr Al Hariri. “So the sun is setting immediately.

“I’m really doubtful if we can actually view it. It’s not an eclipse really for the UAE or even for the Middle East. As the eclipse will be ending, the sun will set.”

The event will start from the Atlantic Ocean, off the east coast of Florida, and will be seen in Gabon, Africa, before moving across the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

It is a hybrid eclipse, meaning it will switch from an annular, where the sun’s corona is visible from the outside of the moon’s silhouette, to a total eclipse, in which the sun is totally obscured by the moon.

But barely 10 per cent of the sun will appear covered, at least in the UAE, on Sunday.

People who watch solar eclipses should wear special eye protection against bright light that can damage their eyes, or even cause blindness.

Mr Al Hariri said light from the sun during this eclipse would not be strong enough to cause any ill effects.

“Because it will be sunset you won’t need any glasses or precautions,” he said.

The group will use sun filters for their cameras, at least at the early stages, for a clearer picture of the eclipse.

The meeting on Sunday will mostly feature members from the astronomy group, however Jason Dalmeida, from the Emirates Photography Group, said it would also consider participating.

“I’ll have to do a bit more research into what it is, and how we can photograph it,” Mr Dalmeida said. “If it looks promising then I might arrange a meeting for the group.”

The UAE was witness to a partial solar eclipse in 2011 but views were blocked by heavy cloud cover.

The country is not scheduled to see a full solar eclipse until December 2019. That will start in Abu Dhabi as an annular eclipse and progress to a total eclipse.

“That will be an amazing eclipse and we are eagerly looking forward to it,” said Mr Al Hariri.