Spectacular ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse thrills skywatchers from Africa to Asia

Skywatchers along a narrow band from west Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, India and the Far East witnessed Sunday a dramatic “ring of fire” solar eclipse. So-called annular eclipses occur when the Moon—passing between Earth and the Sun—is not quite close enough to our planet to completely obscure sunlight, leaving a thin ring of the solar disc visible. Arcing eastward across Africa and Asia, it  reached “maximum eclipse”—with a perfect solar halo around the Moon—over Uttarakhand, India near the Sino-Indian border at 12:10 local time (0640 GMT). In Nairobi, east Africa, observers saw only a partial eclipse as clouds blocked the sky for several seconds at the exact moment the Moon should have almost hidden the Sun. Without the coronavirus pandemic, they would have organised a trip to Lake Magadi in southern Kenya where the skies are generally clearer than over the capital. The full eclipse was visible at successive locations over a period of nearly four hours, and one of the last places to see the partially hidden Sun was Taiwan.