By Aamir Latif, Mubasshir Mushtaq and Munza Mushtaq
KARACHI, Pakistan/MUMBAI, India/COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) - Illuminating edges of the sun offered a spectacular and rare view, which was the result of a solar eclipse, to the astrophiles in most parts of South Asia, including India and Pakistan on Thursday.
Apart from South Asia, the annular solar eclipse, which means the sun is not fully covered by the moon as it happens in case of a total eclipse, was also viewed in Eastern Europe, Northern and Western Australia, Eastern Africa, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and much of Asia.
In Pakistan, the annular solar eclipse took place after 20 years. The last time was a total solar eclipse in August 1999.
It began at 7.46 a.m. local time (0246GMT), and reached its peak at 8.37 a.m. local time (0337GMT), according to Pakistan Meteorological Department. The total duration of the year's last big celestial event, billed as the "ring of fire", lasted over two hours.
The Moon and Sun were in a position where the former covered almost 80% of the latter making a ring of fire.
The annular eclipse was visible in south and southwestern parts, mainly in Southwest coastal belt.
The highest eclipse visibility was recorded in coastal town of Jiwani in southwestern Balochistan province, local broadcaster Aaj News reported.
Special prayers were also observed across Pakistan.
In India, annular solar eclipse was viewed in southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, whereas in much of India, partial eclipse was visible.
In capital New Delhi, it was not visible due to cloudy weather, local broadcaster NDTV reported.
In Sri Lanka, the solar eclipse lasted for about three minutes starting at around 9.33 a.m. (0403GMT). The eclipse was visible from several parts of the country including the capital Colombo, Jaffna, Kurunegala, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Badulla and Galle. It entered Sri Lanka from Delft Islands in the north and left through Batticaloa, located in the east. According to the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, there were both partial and annular phases of the eclipse across the country.
The previous eclipse, which reportedly took place in January 2010, was also sighted in Jaffna. Many Sri Lankans were seen in protective eye gear trying to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.
According to the institute, during the maximum annular phase spotted in Sri Lanka, the Moon covered approximately 93% of the Sun. The almost full solar eclipse was mostly visible in the northern tips of the country such as in Jaffna and other neighboring areas.
Several superstitions are associated with the solar eclipse in South Asia. Some believe that the solar eclipse brings about major political and social changes in the world.
In 1999, the government of the three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was toppled in a military coup just two months after the solar eclipse.
Some others reckon that it causes major health issues for the humans -- especially children -- and thus keep their children indoors during the eclipse.
In contrast, in parts of Pakistan and India, people bury their mentally and physically disabled children half in the sand on the beach believing that the solar eclipse has some magical healing effects.