Photos: A ring of fire

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  1. Shielded from a strange sun

    Residents of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, share a pair of dark goggles as they look at a solar eclipse on Jan. 15, 2010. An annular eclipse raced across central and eastern Africa, briefly reducing the sun to a blazing ring surrounding a dark disk.The solar coverup, visible from a roughly 185-mile (300-kilometer) band running 8,000 miles (12,900 kilometers) across Earth's surface, set a duration mark that won't be surpassed for more than a millennium. (Simon Maina / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A bite out of the setting sun

    The moon casts a shadow on the upper right quadrant of the sun during a partial solar eclipse, as viewed at sunset from the Philippines on Jan. 15. (Bullit Marquez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Optics at work

    An image of the Jan. 15 annular solar eclipse is focused onto the ground in Bangalore, India, through a viewer's spectacle lens. (Aijaz Rahi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Start to finish

    This digital composite shows the rare annular solar eclipse as seen from Kerala in South India, and by others glancing skyward around the world on Jan. 15. During the annular eclipse, the moon passes directly in front of the sun, leaving a spectacular ring of fire. (EyesWideOpen via Getty Images (Top, left), Ali Jarekji / Reuters (Center), Omar Salem / AFP – Getty Images (Right)) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Sun and sand

    Children are half-buried at the Indus river bank near Hyderabad, Pakistan, during the Jan. 15 solar eclipse. Superstitious Pakistanis hope that burying ailing people during a solar eclipse will cure them. (Pervez Mashi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Who was that masked man?

    A man watches the Jan. 15 annular solar eclipse through makeshift filter eyeglasses over the skies of Ranchi, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. (Sasanka Sen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Burning ring of fire

    The highlight of an annular solar eclipse is the ring of fire that appears around the moon during the peak. Here is the climax of the Jan. 15 event as seen from the central stadium in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, South India. (EyesWideOpen via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 1/15/2010 11:33:39 AM ET 2010-01-15T16:33:39

Thousands of people in Africa and Asia viewed an eclipse Friday as the moon crossed the sun's path, blocking everything but a narrow, blazing rim of light.

The path of the eclipse began in Africa — passing through Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia before crossing the Indian Ocean, where it reached its peak. The path then continued into Asia, where the eclipse could be seen in Maldives, southern India and parts of Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China.

Clouds obscured the partial solar eclipse in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, disappointing residents who were up early to catch a glimpse.

"I woke up very early because I wanted to see the eclipse, but I have only been able to catch just a few seconds of it because the clouds kept blocking the view. If I weren't more observant, I would've missed it," said Monica Kamau.

The eclipse is known as an annular eclipse because the moon doesn't block the sun completely. Instead, the edge of the sun's disk remains visible as a ring surrounding the moon during the height of the eclipse. The term "annular" comes from the Latin word annulus, meaning "ring."

Annular eclipses, which are considered far less important to astronomers than total eclipses of the sun, occur about 66 times a century and can only be viewed by people in the narrow band along its path. Friday's eclipse was visible from a 190-mile-wide (300-kilometer-wide) path that passes across half the globe.

In Uganda, locals refer to an eclipse as a war between the sun and moon.

"It is rare to see such an eclipse. I am excited to be seeing this one. It shows how powerful God is," said Damalie Nakaja, a shopkeeper in Kampala.

Hundreds gathered to view the phenomenon in southern India's Dhanushkodi, a tiny town at the tip of a rocky strip of land jutting out into the ocean, where the eclipse could be seen for about 10 minutes.

In the southern Indian city of Bangalore, hundreds went to a planetarium to see it.

"This is my first time viewing an eclipse through a pinhole camera at a planetarium, and I'm very excited," said 12-year-old Aniruddh Kaushik.

Video: Rare solar eclipse Others in India were gripped by fear and refused to come outdoors. Hindu mythology states an eclipse is caused when a dragon-demon swallows the sun, while another myth says the sun's rays during an eclipse can harm unborn children.

In northern India's Haridwar town, hosting the Kumbh Mela — touted as the world's largest religious gathering — thousands of devout Hindus marked the eclipse by taking a dip in the frigid waters of the sacred Ganges river.

The eclipse could also be viewed in Indian capital New Delhi and Mumbai, the financial hub.

In Male, capital of Maldives, hundreds of people watched the eclipse with special glasses in an open field as it reached its peak.

The last total eclipse of the sun was on July 22, 2009, when it was visible in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and some Japanese islands.

Associated Press writers Sinan Hussain in Male, Maldives; Aijaz Rahi in Bangalore, India; Godfrey Olukya in Kampala, Uganda; and Ronald Bera in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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