"For me, it is very beautiful. The Sun, some 150 million kilometers (km) far from the Earth, and the Moon, 40 million km far away, were visible on the right side. This is a sign of the greatness of Allah," Vice President M Jusuf Kalla affirmed.
Jakarta (Antara News) - A solar eclipse visible in most parts of Indonesia, either totally or partly, thrilled and satisfied millions of Indonesians who watched the rare natural phenomenon from almost anywhere they could--homes, football fields, beaches, hilltops, temples, bridges, and planetariums, on the morning of March 9.

The spectacular phenomenon that attracted foreign tourists and scientists to come to Indonesia, moved many Muslim watchers who spontaneously chanted "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest) repeatedly.

As recommended by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), almost every mosque, big and small, across the country was crowded with worshipers who performed special eclipse prayers.

The shadow of the total solar eclipse (TSE) fell over 12 of Indonesias 34 provinces, stretching some five thousand kilometers from east to west, before heading across the Pacific Ocean.

While in most parts of Indonesia, such as Java Island, the solar eclipse was visible partly, at certain places from 80 to over 90 percent.

The TSE was visible for between one and a half to three minutes in most places, while the entire process of the eclipse lasted more than two hours.

A TSE occurs when the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow (the umbra) on Earth. During a total eclipse of the Sun, a Supermoon, which is a Full Moon or a new Moon at its closest point to Earth, covers the entire disk of the Sun.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) watched the partial solar eclipse at the Bogor Palace, West Java.

Jokowi uploaded a picture of himself observing the eclipse. The president wore a sarong, a long-sleeved white shirt, and sported special glasses while witnessing the extraordinary natural phenomenon.

"Witnessing a solar eclipse at Bogor Palace. This is a sign of the greatness of God," he tweeted on his Twitter account.

Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla was in Kotapulu, Sigi District, Central Sulawesi, to observe the total solar eclipse (TSE) along with the local people and foreign scientists and tourists.

Kalla said he was highly impressed after witnessing the TSE, which lasted for two minutes and two seconds, starting at 8:37 a.m. Central Indonesian Standard Time (Wita).

He expressed the hope that some scientific discoveries would be made following the TSE.

"I am grateful that this place is suitable and not cloudy. Scientists have come here," Kalla, who was accompanied by Communication and Informatics Ministers Rudy Antara and Head of the National Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Andi Eka Sakya, noted.

"For me, it is very beautiful. The Sun, some 150 million kilometers (km) far from the Earth, and the Moon, 40 million km far away, were visible on the right side. This is a sign of the greatness of Allah," Kalla affirmed.

He recalled that in 1983, a similar phenomenon had also occurred, but the authorities had banned people from watching it as it was understood that such a phenomenon could cause blindness.

The vice president also joined thousands of local Central Sulawesi inhabitants in offering special prayers for the TSE.

Several foreign researchers and scientists were also present in Sigi, believed to be one of the best spots to view the TSE.

On the occasion, Kalla greeted Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers who was also on the field.

Kuipers from the European Space Agency (ESA) had landed on the Moon in 2004 and 2012.

The Dutch scientist and his colleagues expressed their excitement when the Moon fully blocked the Sun from view.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan observed the TSE in Bangka Belitung Province, where it lasted for two minutes and 10 seconds.

Watching the TSE on Tanjung Kelayang beach, Belitung, Minister Yahya was satisfied that the event managed to attract some 50 thousand domestic and foreign tourist to the province, 10 times more than those during regular weekends.

Minister Anies Baswedan witnessed the eclipse along with his family members and some 120 disabled children in Terentang coast in Central Bangka.

"I thanked God for being able to view this natural phenomenon, particularly along with the disabled children," he remarked.

The natural phenomenon is a lesson on how great God is and how small mankind is in the universe, he affirmed.

In Jakarta, some 10 thousand visitors flocked the Planetarium and Observatory located at the Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Art Center, to watch a partial solar eclipse.

"It being a holiday, the number of visitors reached more than 10 thousand," Eko Wahyu Wibowo, head of the planetarium unit of the Jakarta Education Office, stated.

The venue was crowded, and the roads leading to the center were also congested.

Despite the publics enthusiasm, the planetarium only provided 4.7 thousand special glasses to watch the solar eclipse.

Some visitors had queued up since 2 a.m. local time to ensure they get the special glasses.

In the capital city, the eclipse began at 6:19:20 a.m. local time and ended at 8:31:42 a.m. local time. The peak of the eclipse occurred at 7:21:32 a.m. local time.

A total solar eclipse only occurs once every 33 years in Indonesia and happens in the same location only once every 340 years.

The next solar eclipse in Indonesia is expected to occur on April 20, 2023, and its path of totality will be in Papua. ***4***
09-03-2016 23:39:44

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2016