KOTA KINABALU: Hours before the sighting of the moon to determine the date for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Tawau residents had the opportunity to witness a partial solar eclipse in the Sabah east coast district on Thursday (April 20).
The district was selected to host the partial solar eclipse observation programme in the state, jointly organised by the federal Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and the National Planetarium.
People had gathered at the Tawau Library grounds to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon starting from 11am.
Although the partial eclipse - which is not expected again until four years from now - could be seen in some other parts of the country, the best visibility was in Tawau.
According to a previous statement from the federal Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, the eclipse has a 43% coverage in Tawau, the highest compared to Peninsular Malaysia (1% to 15%), Kuching (30%) and Kota Kinabalu (34%).
Sabah Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif said the National Planetarium had prepared free eclipse glasses to allow visitors to sight the eclipse safely.
“Several telescopes with special filters were also provided to guests so they could observe the phenomenon clearly without harming their eyes,” he said when met during the programme.
The partial solar eclipse in conjunction with the solar eclipse that passed over the north of the Australian continent could be viewed from 11am to 2pm in Sabah and from 11 am to 1 pm in the peninsula.
Meanwhile, National Planetarium senior principal assistant director Mohd Zamri Shah Mastor said the next time a similar eclipse will occur again would be in August 2027.
Thus, he said, the people, especially the younger, generation should seize the opportunity to observe and learn about the eclipse because of its rarity.
“Maybe they have learned about astronomy in school but today was an experiment where we made the sky our lab to confirm the truth of astronomy,” he said.
Also present at the event were Tawau MP Lo Su Fui, Balung assemblyman Datuk Hamild Awang, Kukusan rep Rina Jainal and the state Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry’s permanent secretary Zainudin Aman.