Male, Jan 15

Unlike in India, where thousands of people converged to watch the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium Friday, most beaches and parks in this capital city of Maldives wore a deserted look as none of the residents came out to watch the eclipse, which was seen the best here.

For Friday being a public holiday in this Islamic nation, the city in fact was very quiet with the majority of shops, colleges and offices closed. Special prayers are being held in mosques every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and everybody makes it a point to attend.

Although people did know that there is a solar eclipse Friday, none of them looked excited about it.

"I know that there is an eclipse Friday but nothing special about it. These keep happening and people here are not into eclipse-watch activities," Mohammed Nasir, a taxi driver, told IANS.

In the island city spread over some four kilometre area, many people said they had never watched an eclipse.

"There are no public watch activities organised here during the eclipse. Hence, people are not enthusiastic about it. I don't remember of having ever seen any eclipse," said Sharon Siddique, a college student.

Some of the hotels do organise eclipse watch for their guests but no outsiders are allowed.

"An eclipse watch was organised at Holiday Inn Hotel and it was a gathering of some few tourists. It was beautiful to see the eclipse as sun looked like a bright ring," Sarah Harvey, a London-based writer vacationing in Maldives, told a visiting IANS correspondent.

Actually its hard to find solar goggles or solar filters in Male as none of the shops sell them.

"We did receive some requests for solar googlies and solar filters from hotels and people this time. But we could not cater to them as there is no demand for such items," said Ibrahim Umar Maik, a shopkeeper dealing in scientific gadgets.

Annular solar eclipse occurs when the Sun and the Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon's shadow is smaller than the visible disc of the Sun. The covered Sun, therefore, appears as a 'Ring of Fire', with its rays spread out from the outline of the Moon.

The eclipse started in the Maldives at 10:15 a.m. (10:45 IST) and peaked at 12:20 p.m. (12:50 IST) before ending at 1:40 p.m. (14:10 IST).

 

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