Dubai: Curious residents, amateur astronomers and seasoned stargazers in the UAE braved a hot and humid Sunday morning to gaze upon the partial solar eclipse through protective filter glasses and telescope projections safely set up for the spectacle.
Some of them drove to Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Dubai’s Mushrif Park where they learnt more about the phenomena through the Dubai Astronomy Group.
Soon after 8am the disc of the moon started its two-hour path in the sky passing in front of the disc of the sun, reaching maximum eclipse around 9.30am. As the sky dimmed, there was a dip in temperature.
Around a quarter after 11am, the eclipse was over, and the high summer sun blasted its light and heat in full glory again.
‘It was breath-taking’
“This is the first time I saw an eclipse live outdoors, and it was breath-taking. We see it on TV and in the movies, but to see it live with other people who are interested in such things, was absolutely beautiful,” said Arab expat Omaima Mohammad, 48, who was at the astronomy centre with her daughter.
“We when we got here, it was dark and we saw the eclipse through the protective glasses. It was nice to see how it works in real life. I told my daughter, who is in grade three, ‘you need to see this, you will understand and enjoy your science class even more.’”
Omaima, who is “a desert and mountain runner”, added, “I love nature and both my children love space, so this was great for us.”
Projection from telescope
Joining the residents were some municipality staff working at the park, where they also saw a projection safely from a telescope set up outside the astronomy centre, besides through protective filter glasses, said Shaneer N Siddiqui, Project Coordinator, Dubai Astronomy Group.
“Since we did not organise a big event this time because of the norms related to the coronavirus pandemic, we maximised our social media channels to livestream the event. We had a motorised telescope inside the astronomy centre,” Siddiqui said.
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“People who came here to see the event stayed on for the whole time. It was an amazing experience, especially for those seeing it for the first time.”
Siddiqui also clarified a few misconceptions about the event some residents may have had.
“This was technically not a ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse. It was a partial solar eclipse, even though there was huge coverage of the Sun – more than 86 per cent – for you,” he said.
Also, the fact that the eclipse occurred on June 21 – the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere – was simply a coincidence, and not ill omen for the world, Siddiqui said.