On 26th December this year, an annular solar eclipse will be witnessed in the United Arab Emirates.
The moon passes directly in front of the centre of the sun, with the visible outer edges of the star creating a bright circle often described as a ‘ring of fire’.
Residents have been warned by the UAE Space Agency against directly looking at the sun unless they have proper protection for their eyes, and the importance of taking safety measures and following safety guidelines has also been stressed.
These guidelines are of particular importance to motorists.
Although the UAE has experienced a number of partial solar eclipses in the past, it is 172 years since the last ‘ring of fire’ eclipse was witnessed in the region back in 1847.
The UAE is a very different place today, and traffic accidents relating to the eclipse are more than possible given that there are more than 3m vehicles on the region’s roads in today’s world.
The good news is that there are some tips that drivers in the UAE can follow in order to avoid becoming involved in an accident during next week’s eclipse.
Anyone who is planning on watching the eclipse should ensure that they are not on the road when the event is scheduled to take place.
There are a number of official viewing sites from which residents can choose to watch the eclipse.
Events are being organised by the UAE Space Agency together with the International Astronomical Centre at Al Dhafra’s Liwa Hills Hotel, which is situated close to Madinat Zayed.
The agency is also working with the Thuraya Astronomical Observatory for an event to be staged at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort as well as with the Emirates Mobile Observatory at Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall.
These events are all free to the public, but drivers should ensure that they leave plenty of time to arrive at their destination and are not still on the road when the eclipse begins.
Motorists have also been warned to avoid attempting to watch the eclipse while still driving.
Although staring at the eclipse is not advisable anyway, it is easy for such a rare and significant event to distract drivers, and they could be tempted to look through the window or sunroof.
Wearing the required protected goggles is also not advisable while driving as they considerably hamper visibility and could result in an accident.
Drivers heading in an easterly direction during the eclipse should have their sun visor positioned in such a way as to block the sun from their view.
Although the full eclipse will last just three minutes, the whole event will last for nearly two and a half hours.
The morning of 26th December will therefore be a lot darker than normal, and motorists have been advised to manually switch on their headlights and keep them on for the entire event.
Anyone who is driving in the UAE should be covered by car insurance.
Accidents can happen at any time, not just during a solar eclipse, and car insurance is the best financial protection against such incidents.