A large crowd of both local people and tourists made it to Hagar Qim on the morning of the 29th of March to view the last partial solar eclipse visible from Malta for the following five years.
Members of the Malta Astronomical Society set up telescopes with special solar filters so that the public could observe this wonderful natural phenomenon. With clockwork precision, the moon took the first bite of the sun at 11:16 devouring more and more of it up to 12:30p.m (68% of the sun’s disk was covered at this moment). Then, gradually, it receded back, leaving a fully-normal sun at 13:46.
Society members in Sallum, near the border of Libya, witnessed the most astounding of all natural phenomena – a total eclipse of the sun.
Over 15.000 people gathered there to view the total eclipse amongst whom was the president Mubarak. Unfortunately, the next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from Malta will be in 2088. But the next partial one will take place on 4th January, 2011. Today. totality was visible from Brazil. the Atlantic ocean, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and central Asia.
The Astronomical Society of Malta was very satisfied with the turnout it had, The hundreds who made it to Hagar Qim could view this event through telescopes set up by society members equipped with special solar filters.
Worth mentioning is another phenomenon which was visible this morning although it had nothing to do with the solar eclipse. A very wide ring formed around the sun. This is called a solar halo and it may develop every time there are high-altitude cirrus clouds.
It is true that a partial solar eclipse (such as the one which was visible from Malta) doesn’t match to a total solar eclipse (like the one viewed from the above mentioned countries). but it draws people to astronomy who eventually might become interested in what the universe has to offer us… the hope of The Astronomical Society of Malta is that more and more people will start taking interest in our magnificent universe.
Joseph Caruana – Activity Coordinator at Hagar Qim