Thousands of people across the eastern hemisphere looked skyward on Thursday to watch a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse.
The annular eclipse, during which the moon covers the sun but leaves its outer edges visible, was seen in parts of the Middle East and Asia on Boxing Day.
“This will be the first of only two annular eclipses visible from Singapore for the rest of the century,” said the Astronomical Society of Singapore’s president, Albert Ho.
“In that sense, it’s a very rare event for us,” he said.
The Indonesian authorities provided telescopes and hundreds of the special glasses to protect viewers’ eyes.
According to local media, thousands of people gazed at the sky and cheered and clapped as the sun transformed into a dark orb for more than two minutes, briefly plunging the sky into darkness.
Religious prayers were also offered during the eclipse.
“How amazing to see the ring of fire when the sun disappeared slowly,” said Firman Syahrizal, a resident of Sinabang in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh province who witnessed the event with his family.
Narenda Modi, the Indian prime minister, shared an image of himself preparing for the eclipse.
He said he was “enthusiastic” but “could not see the sun due to cloud cover”. The Indian capital Delhi is currently in the grips of a winter air pollution crisis that regularly renders visibility poor.
The previous annular solar eclipse in February 2017 was also visible over a slice of Indonesia.
This type of eclipse happens when the moon is further away from the Earth than during total and partial solar eclipses, so that it does not cover the sun completely as it passes.
Additional reporting by agencies