Ring of fire in the sky

Young women wearing traditional Iban attire looking at the annular solar eclipse through black film.

By Karen Bong and Lian Cheng

SERIAN, Dec 26: This Boxing Day is a special one as Sarawakians were treated to a rare annular solar eclipse for the first time in 20 years.

Hundreds of locals and visitors flocked to Kampung Pichin here to observe the eclipse at an event organised by Serian MP Datuk Seri Richard Riot.

All eyes were turned skyward for a good 15 minutes or more on the ‘ring of fire’ as the natural phenomena unfolded.

Some viewed the solar eclipse through black film over a pail of water on the ground.

The annular solar eclipse on Dec 26, 2019 as captured Jacky Chua.
Riot showing children the way to catch a glimpse of the annular solar eclipse using a black film sheet over a pail of water.

The length of the eclipse lasted about three minutes.

At 1.49pm, the eclipse reached its peak when the moon was the closest to the sun’s centre.

This is a rare experience as the next annular solar eclipse which can be seen from Sarawak will be in 2063.

An annular solar eclipse differs from a total solar eclipse as the moon does not completely obscure the sun as the moon is farther away from the earth than normal, making it appear smaller.

As a result, the sun is not totally eclipsed, creating a ‘ring of fire’ effect, or annulus — a thin ring of sunlight that surrounds the silhouette of the moon.

Riot (standing behind in cap) observing the eclipse with children and villagers at Kampung Pichin.

The last annular solar eclipse in Malaysia occurred 21 years ago on Aug 22, 1998. It was seen in Mersing, Johor.

Today’s observation event was organised in collaboration with Sultan Iskandar Planetarium Kuching at Kampung Pichin, starting at 7.30am.

Many activities were planned for the celebration including aerobic dance, traditional dance, live band performances and other entertainment such as ‘Biragung’ (traditional Bidayuh gong beating), ‘Bilanggi’ and ‘Ngajat’ dances as well as ‘Begendang’ (traditional Malay singing and drum beating). — DayakDaily