An annular solar eclipse will sweep over Indian Ocean on Jan 26, the first eclipse for the year 2009.
An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the outline of the Moon. [Wikipedia]
Crescent sun setting in Borneo
People in Borneo will be among the lucky ones as they can see almost the full grandeur of the eclipse.
In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, the first contact — the moment when the edge of the moon overlaps with the sun — will take place at 8.43am UT or about 4.43pm local time.
The eclipse will be at its maximum at 5.54pm local time when the moon totally obscures 75 per cent of the sun, leaving only a tiny crescent of the sun. [Watch the eclipse's animation as can be seen from Kota Kinabalu].
[Graphic: Eclipses Online]
The luckiest of people will be those living in Tanjung Karang, south of Sumatra, Indonesia as they will be able to witness the full grandeur of the annular eclipse — when the moon totally obscures the inner part of the sun, leaving only its outer edge visible.
The annular eclipse can also be seen in Sarawak. In fact, the best place to watch the eclipse in Malaysia is in Sri Aman, where gazers can expect to see nearly 83 per cent of the sun obscured by the moon. [Watch the eclipse's animation as can be seen from Sri Aman]
In Kota Kinabalu, Tanjung Lipat will be the best place to view the eclipse. Those with good photographic sets may want to set up their equipment there and pray that the sky will be clear.
In fact the eclipse that is going to be visible in Kota Kinabalu on the evening of Jan 26 will be among the most spectacular annular eclipses. Here’s why:
At 5.54pm, the sun is about to set in Sabah. From the Tanjung Lipat vantage point, the sun can still be seen above the horizon, hovering just above the sea water.
Heaven knows what a view that will be
That will be a god-send photo opportunity for photographers. Not only can they photograph the eclipse, they can also have the horizon, the sea, beach, trees, people, huts, islands, golden sky and ships mooring off the Kota Kinabalu port as elements to create a dramatic ambiance of their pictures. Others may also want to take the eclipse against the Sabah Foundation Building.
The whole process will be over by 6.57pm local time, meaning the sun will still be partly-eclipsed by the moon by the time it disappears from the horizon!
People in the old days would be left wondering if the sun would still rise the next day!
IMPORTANT NOTE ON PHOTOGRAPHING ECLIPSE: Do not look directly at the sun from your camera viewfinder unless you are wearing special eyeglasses as even the few seconds of exposure to the glare can permanently damage the retina.
P.S: The annular eclipse can also be seen partially from states in Peninsular Malaysia.
P.P.S: I hope I am correct with my calculation of the time, otherwise many will miss the eclipse, which is to occur at 8.43:57.5 UT (Universal Time). If my understanding is correct, UT is similar to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and Malaysia is +8 hours of GMT, hence 8.43:57.5 UT is actually 4.43:57.5pm. Please korek me if I am wrong.