Dramatic 'ring of fire' solar eclipse darkens the Sun over Emirates

Solar eclipse peaked at 9.36am as the Moon briefly crossed the Sun

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The UAE witnessed a spectacular solar eclipse on Sunday.

The Moon began to pass over the Sun and cast its shadow on the Earth at 8.14am in the Emirates.

People gathered outside houses and high-rises across the country shortly before the eclipse peaked at 9.36am.

The sky darkened, as if the Sun had passed behind thick clouds.

Amiel Baluch, 24, and his friend Yoana Zaneva stood outside a high-rise in JLT, Dubai, peering at the sun through eclipse glasses.

“We are just waiting for the peak,” said Mr Baluch, an account manager from the Netherlands.

“I assumed there was going to be a massive shadow.”

Raed and Jad Shatnawi, a Jordanian father and son, stood by the steps of the building next door.

“It’s too bright,” said Jad, 14.

“For me, my first eclipse was here, in 1999,” his father said.

“People were afraid. The streets were empty, it was like a lockdown.”

Abu Dhabi's Astronomy Centre shared images of the event shortly after it began.

The Dubai Astronomy Group warned residents not to look at the Sun directly during the event as it can permanently damage the retina.

A solar eclipse should be watched only through protective glasses or through a pinhole projector. Standard UV sunglasses do not offer enough protection.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves directly between the Earth and the Sun.

Sunday's event is known as an annular solar eclipse. This occurs when the Moon is at such a great distance in its orbit from the Earth that it cannot completely block out the Sun, causing a circle of light to surround it like a halo.

The eclipse was visible across Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Central and South-East Asia.

The UAE saw 86 per cent of the Sun obscured by the Moon. People in the Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, southern Pakistan, northern India and China will enjoy the best views.

"Never look at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without proper eye protection, like eclipse glasses," said Hasan Al Hariri, chief executive officer of Dubai Astronomy Group, which broadcast the event online.

"The Sun’s rays can burn the retinas in the eyes leading to permanent damage or even blindness. A safe way to watch a solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or to project an image of the eclipsed Sun using a pinhole projector."

The UAE last witnessed a ring of fire solar eclipse in December last year.