Middle Eastern and Asian stargazers have witnessed a rare 'ring of fire' eclipse as the moon obscured the sun leaving only its fiery rim visible. India's eastern state of Odisha even declared a public holiday.
Media in Saudi Arabia said Thursday's eclipse was visible for nearly 3 minutes during sunrise in the central al-Ahsa province — as the narrow shadow cast by the Moon on the Earth's surface tracked toward Asia.
The United Arab Emirates' space agency based in Abu Dhabi said it was the first annular solar eclipse observed in that region since 1847.
India's Odisha state closed public services, including schools, for the viewing, while in Tamil Nadu state people gathered on beaches, reported the news agency AFP.
Cloud cover and pollution in New Delhi blocked views, prompting Prime Minister Narenda Modi to tweet his disappointment.
At Sinabang in Indonesia's western Banda Aceh province, resident Firma Syahrizal described the brief period of darkness and ring of fire as "amazing."
In Surabaya on Indonesia's main island of Java, Islamic prayers were held.
Along Singapore's harbor, hundreds of amateur astronomers watched Thursday's brief spectacle using special filters.
It was "so intense that you talk about it with your friends, family for the next month," said visiting German geophysicist Alexander Alin.
"It's very rare event for us," said Albert Ho, president of Singapore's Astronomical Society, adding that the Asian nation's next such eclipse would occur in 2063.
On Guam in the Pacific the eclipse neared its maximum duration — relative to stationary Earth viewers — of 3 minutes 39 seconds.
In most years somewhere around the Earth at least two solar eclipses are visible, but "ring of fire" events at the same location transpire decades apart.
Upcoming annular ring-like eclipses forecast include June 2020, across a narrow band of Africa to northern Asia, and then in June 2021 — visible across the Arctic, Greenland and Canada.
ipj/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)