Under the darkened sky on 26 December, silence fell over the crowd of NUS students, staff, alumni and members of the public gathered at the University’s multipurpose field.
Anticipation grew as the minutes inched towards the historic moment the attendees had braved the heat for. At exactly 1:22pm, gasps and cheers arose from the crowd as they finally took in the rare celestial phenomenon of an annular solar eclipse.
An annular solar eclipse is one where the moon does not completely cover the sun, resulting in a thin ring of sunlight encircling the moon.
“This is different from a partial solar eclipse in that in a partial solar eclipse, the moon covers the sun such that there is a crescent shape of sunlight. This is also different from a total solar eclipse in that in a total solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun,” explained Dr Abel Yang, a lecturer at NUS Physics.
The viewing event, jointly organised by NUS Physics and the NUS Astronomical Society, saw some 30 telescopes and pinhole projectors set up to provide the best views of the eclipse. The organisers also distributed 5,000 solar viewer cards to the attendees to provide eye protection while they watched the phenomenon.
The event drew people from all walks of life, from young children to senior citizens.
Seven-year-old Samarth, who was accompanied by his mother Sujatha Narayanan Kutty, a Senior Research Fellow at the NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute, was excited to witness the eclipse. He had previously watched a lunar eclipse in 2018, but this was his first solar eclipse, and it likely won’t be his last.
Samarth plans to catch the next annular solar eclipse when it’s visible from Singapore again in February 2063 — hopefully with his own children in tow.