Annular solar eclipse on Boxing Day

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 25 Dec 2019

Look, skywatchers: National Planetarium senior assistant director Zulhibabullah Ismail (left) with his crew setting up a telescope to prepare for eclispe viewing at Serian about 60km from Kuching.

JOHOR BARU: A rare “ring of fire” will be the highlight before 2019 ends as the annular eclipse returns to Malaysia’s skies for the first time in 21 years.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) architecture and measurement faculty senior lecturer Dr Othman Zainon said the next annular solar eclipse was expected to happen in 2042.

“The last time that the annular solar eclipse phenomenon happened in Malaysia occurred on Aug 28,1998, in Mersing.

“This time around it will happen late Thursday morning (tomorrow) in Tanjung Piai, ” he said here yesterday.

Othman said the annular solar eclipse happened when the moon covered most of the sun, where it resembled a “ring of fire”.

He noted that the eclipse would occur in Oman and move to the Indian Ocean before reaching parts of Indonesia and Malaysia where besides Tanjung Piai, the eclipse would also be visible in Serian, Sarawak.

“At 1.21pm, the moon will cross directly in front of the sun where the eclipse will reach its peak for two minutes.

“During this period, the sky will turn into evening time, ” Othman said, adding that the university would also be conducting research work to study the effects of an annular eclipse.

He added that among the UTM research included changes in temperature, wind and also animal behaviour.

He pointed out that a team of researchers would be stationed at the Johor Zoo to record the animals’ behaviour during the annular eclipse.

“We have also invited delegates from the Asean Astronomical Workshop for Teachers to witness it at the Tanjung Piai Johor National Park, where they are able to learn more about the eclipse and teach their students about it, ” Othman added.

In Kangar, Bernama reported that Muslims were encouraged to congregate and offer the solat sunat gerhana matahari (eclipse prayers).

A statement from the Perlis Islamic Religious Affairs Department said 19 mosques in the state would be holding the prayers tomorrow at 11.20am.

Among the mosques holding the prayers are the four main mosques in the state – Masjid Alwi and Masjid Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail in Kangar, Masjid Negeri in Arau and Masjid Al-Hussain in Kuala Perlis.

In Ipoh, the Perak Mufti Department astrology division said the eclipse of the sun was expected to occur from 11.18am to 3.09pm, with the peak being at 1.11pm, when 85% of the sun would be blocked by the moon.

“Mosques or surau planning to organise the sunnah muakkadah solar eclipse prayers are recommended to perform the prayers after zohor prayers.

“Those wishing to perform the prayers individually may do so anytime during the solar eclipse, ” it said.

Skywatchers: National Planetarium senior assistant director Zulhibabullah Ismail (left) and his crew setting up a telescope to view the eclipse in Serian, about 60km from Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

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