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Malaysians will experience daylight darkness for two-and-a-half minutes during a solar eclipse on Dec 26. -- NSTP/NIK HARIFF HASSAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians will experience daylight darkness for two-and-a-half minutes during a solar eclipse on Dec 26.

National Planetarium director Anita Bahari said the phenomenon was expected to occur, based on information from the United States’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“The phenomenon is expected to start at 10.26am until 3.30pm.

“The partial eclipse will take place nationwide, save for Tanjung Piai in Johor and Serian in Sarawak, where the annular eclipse will occur,” Anita told a media conference today.

An annular eclipse happens every 20 years, when the moon covers the sun’s centre, causing the sun’s visible outer edge to form a ring-shaped shadow or “annulus” around the moon.

This natural phenomenon occurs when the sun, the moon and the earth are aligned.

The National Planetarium, Tanjung Piai Johor National Park, Tourism Malaysia and Pontian District Council will organise Solarfest 2019 in Tanjung Piai from Dec 24 to 26.

Tanjung Piai, which is a recognised Ramsar site, is also the southernmost tip of mainland Asia.

“Tanjung Piai is the official location for this fest, as it is expected for the annular eclipse to occur there.

“There, we are expecting a crowd of 30,000 to two million on the day of the occurrence.

“We will be distributing free mylar eclipse glasses for the first 10,000 visitors.

“The public can also get their glasses here in planetarium before going to the venue,” Anita said.

Solarfest 2019 will host various shows and programmes, including the setting up of a split-screen during the eclipse which will project live eclipse movements across eight locations nationwide and dialogue sessions with astronomers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

Participants will be able to learn about astrophysics, astrophotography and participate in solar exhibitions, solar boot camp and other topics related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics throughout the event.

Also in the itinerary is the planting of two thousand mangrove shoots to make an entry into the Malaysia Book of Records.

The National Planetarium will be holding a live-screening of the annular eclipse in Serian.

“We expect the annular eclipse to occur in Tanjung Piai at around 1.21pm until 1.23pm and at 1.46pm until 1.50pm in Serian.

“This natural phenomenon had occurred last 21 years, specifically on Aug 22, 1998, and it will take another 20 to 22 years for it to happen again.

“I believe it (the eclipse phenomenon) is a rare occurrence and the public should experience astronomical science in action,” Anita said.

The eclipse phenomenon, in general, will entail natural traits of illuminated skies and influence birds migration and tidal patterns.

“As in Tanjung Piai, the usual water level is around 2m to 3m deep.

“We are expecting that the water level to rise to 3.5m during the eclipse,” Anita said.

National Planetarium vice-director Zamri Shah Mastor said: “We are anticipating for the temperature to drop slightly.”

For safety reasons, he said it was advisable to use binoculars equipped with mylar eclipse filter and welding glass number 14 and above.

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