Look on the dark side

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am

People in many parts of Asia and Africa will see a spectacular annular solar eclipse on Friday, when the sun appears as a bright ring surrounding the darkened moon.

Seen from near the Maldives, the eclipse - which occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, covering the sun fully or partly - will last for 11 minutes and eight seconds.

The spectacle will also be visible over Central Africa, South India, Myanmar and different parts of the mainland, from Yunan to Shandong. On the mainland, the sun will appear as a ring for up to eight minutes.

This will be the longest annular eclipse since January 4, 1992, and it will not get any better for more than a thousand years, until December 23, 3043. The eclipse is due to last for 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

Although Hong Kong does not lie in the path of the annular eclipse, the public can still see a large partial eclipse, with two-thirds of the sun blotted out by the moon.

Locally, the eclipse will begin at about 3.33pm and reach its maximum at 4.54pm. It will end around 6pm, when the sun and the moon dip below the horizon.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Space Museum said the best locations to watch Friday's event were those with a clear view to the southwest, such as Tuen Mun, Tai O and Lamma Island. The museum will organise a guided observation at 3.30pm on Friday.

The museum will also show a live TV broadcast of the phenomenon in its foyer, while internet users can go to www.weather.gov.hk/gts/hksm/astrophoto.htm