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Top UAE astronomer dispels superstitions around December 26 eclipse

Sarwat Nasir/Dubai
Filed on December 10, 2019 | Last updated on December 10, 2019 at 07.32 pm
Top, UAE astronomer, dispels, superstitions, December 26, eclipse,
The sun will be covered 91.93 per cent by the moon, creating a 'ring of fire' in the sky.- Alamy Image

The problem is that most of the world looks at such an event as a bad thing.

A top astronomer has warned against bizarre superstitions surrounding an upcoming annular solar eclipse in the UAE, such as that "pregnant women and children should not watch such astronomical events".

The rare eclipse will be visible from Liwa in Abu Dhabi after 172 years on December 26 and won't appear again for another 83 years. CEO of the Dubai Astronomy Group Hasan Al Hariri has said that his organisation has received "several calls" from worried residents who have misconceptions about eclipses.

During this stellar event, the sun will be covered 91.93 per cent by the moon, creating a 'ring of fire' in the sky.

"There are many misconceptions and superstitions about eclipses. Every time there is one coming, I get lots of calls from people in different communities to know when the exact date is so they can stay away from it," Al Hariri told Khaleej Times.

"There are superstitions that pregnant women, children and housewives should not carry sharp things, open doors or windows and stay indoors during an eclipse. In one culture, people believe that a dragon has eaten the sun. The problem is that most of the world looks at such an event as a bad thing."

Now, the Dubai Astronomy Group has partnered with the UAE Space Agency to distribute free solar eclipse glasses to schools so children can observe the upcoming eclipse in a safe manner. They are also running a training programme for its proper observation.

The group will be holding an observation event in Abu Dhabi so residents can have a look at the solar eclipse.

"This event is quite spectacular and we want people to be safe, especially the children. It'll be on a school day and children will be very interested to see it," Al Hariri said. "In Dubai Astronomy Group, we are obliged to support our community and children and that's why we are trying to help everybody and offer them a chance to look and observe the eclipse very safely. We are giving at least 10 glasses to each school, so they can safely showcase this event to children, who are protected while looking at the sun directly.

"This is also another major chance to educate people about astronomy, while dispelling misconceptions that eclipses are dangerous."

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com


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