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People in Dubai and across the emirates will be able to enjoy the first solar eclipse of the year on January 4, 2011, according to the Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG).

Dubai will witness the eclipse around 9.30 Universal Time (UT), or 13.30 local time, and the DAG will organise a free event in Dubai on the day for those interested in viewing the partial eclipse.

The group adds the eclipse will be visible over most of Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Western Asia.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between earth and the sun, thereby totally or partially obscuring earth’s view of the sun. A partial solar eclipse occurs in the polar regions of the earth when the centre of the moon’s shadow misses the earth.

DAG is advising people to view the eclipse only through Eclipse paper glasses, available with the group at a nominal cost (Dh20).

According to NASA, the penumbral shadow will first touch earth’s surface in northern Algeria at 06:40:11 UT. As the shadow travels east, Western Europe will be treated to a partial eclipse at sunrise.

Most of northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia also lie in the penumbra’s path, NASA added. Citizens of Cairo (0.551), Jerusalem (0.574), Istanbul (0.713), and Tehran (0.507) all witness a large magnitude (the fraction of the sun’s diameter obscured by the moon) partial eclipse.

The eclipse magnitude from European cities like Madrid (0.576), Paris (0.732), London (0.747), and Copenhagen (0.826) will give early morning risers an excellent opportunity to photograph the sunrise eclipse with interesting foreground scenery.

Greatest eclipse occurs at 08:50:35 UT in northern Sweden, says NASA, where the eclipse in the horizon will have a magnitude of 0.858. At that time, the axis of the Moon’s shadow will pass a mere 510km above earth’s surface, it said.

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