Early birds treated to rare annular solar eclipse


06:19 PM May 21st, 2012

By: Kristine L. Alave, May 21st, 2012 06:19 PM

Motorists pause to take a look at an annular solar eclipse using a welder's glass and a solar filter at sunrise Monday May 21, 2012, at Gumaca, Quezon province. AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ

MANILA, Philippines—Early birds on Monday saw the moon partially block the sun, making it appear like a ring of fire, a sight that will not be seen again for 18 years.

Folks who woke up early enough to see the sunrise were treated to some minutes of the rare annular solar eclipse despite overcast skies in some places, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Mario Raymundo, an officer at the Pagasa Observatory in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, said observers flocked to the observatory to catch the glimpse of the eclipse on Monday morning.  “It was visible but it was often cloudy,” Raymundo said.

According to Pagasa’s advisory, parts of the Philippines like north Luzon and Mindanao were cloudy due to the tailend of the cold front and the intertropical convergence zone.

This particular eclipse was first recorded in 984 AD, Raymundo said. It will be seen again in 2030.

The eclipse was already underway when the sun rose in the Metro Manila horizon at 5:27 a.m., he said.

And although there were clouds that often blocked the view, there was an interval of 10 minutes when the skies parted, giving onlookers a clear view of the partial annular eclipse, Raymundo said. The rare celestial event ended at 7:06 a.m.

Some Filipinos dragged themselves out of the bed early to photograph the once-in-a-generation sight.

Twitter user @countocram’s photograph showed the moon blocking half of a glowing reddish sun that seemed to be floating on a black background. According to the photographer, the picture, which was shared by other news website, was taken at 6:35 a.m. in Cebu City.

In areas in Metro Manila, the maximum eclipse was seen at 5:58 a.m., when the moon obscured 61 percent of the sun. Raymundo said the city was too far down south of the eclipse’s path to be able to see the full annular eclipse that was seen in China and North America.

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