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Asia’s eclipse watchers are more fascinating than the eclipse itself

A group of women in matching hijabs and protective glasses stare at the eclipse in Indonesia
Antara Foto/Abriawan Abhe/via Reuters
We’re all alike in enjoying a good eclipse.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The last eclipse of the decade is taking place in the sky above a roughly 73-mile-wide path running across the Middle East and South Asia.

The celestial event is dubbed a “ring of fire” eclipse for the amazing pattern it creates. Here’s what is actually happening: The moon is passing in front of the sun while at its furthest distance from Earth in its elliptical orbit, making it small enough in the sky that it doesn’t totally obscure the sun as it crosses it. Instead, it leaves a thin blazing ring—a spectacular sight topped only by the images of the people watching it.

Photographers captured the watching crowds as the eclipse unfolded above Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and elsewhere. The images, like eclipses themselves, are an occasional reminder that all of us look out from the same general vantage point, even if our particular views vary. For a few moments as objects in space line up just right, we are united in our desire to look up and see past the limits of our little planet—while wearing funny glasses, of course. (Please, protect your eyes.)

First, because we know you want to see it, here’s the eclipse itself over Indonesia.

AP Photo/Rifka Majjid
Ok, the eclipse is pretty cool.

And now, here’s what it looked like if you were just in it for the people watching, which is also a pretty fantastic sight as everyone—different ages, religions, and more—shared in the same curiosity, albeit at different times. Depending on location, some saw the eclipse on Dec. 25,  and some on Dec. 26.

Saudi Arabia

Men and women accessorized their headwear with protective glasses.

Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed


A class of students, a roadside vendor carrying on with work, and a Hindu priest—opting for exposed x-ray film to shield his eyes—all watched the eclipse.

Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images
AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
Reuters/Jayanta Dey


Whether they had the authorized glasses or not, people found a way to watch. This man in Pakistan used welding glasses.

Reuters/Fayaz Aziz


Of course if you can find one pair of glasses big enough for everyone, that works too, like it did for these kids in Bangkok.

Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha


Young and old alike cast their eyes up for a glimpse.

Sadiq Asyraf/AFP via Getty Images
Sadiq Asyraf/AFP via Getty Images


However different the world’s inhabitants may be on most days, they all like a good eclipse.

Reuters/Willy Kurniawan
Reuters/Willy Kurniawan
AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara

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