Longest Total Solar Eclipse in the 21st Century


The longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century happened today (22nd July, 2009/ July 22nd, 2009)! The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China and left the Asia mainland before passing through Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reaches 6 min 39 s. And the broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow covers most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean (including Malaysia!).

An animation of the eclipse

An animation of the eclipse

I attended the Solar Eclipse viewing program in Kuala Ibai, Terengganu at Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Masjid terapung) organised by the Jabatan Mufti Terengganu, Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Terengganu and Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia. The details were as written below:

In Kuala Terengganu,
First Contact – 8:24 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:08 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 13%)
Last Contact – 9:56 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

While in Kuala Lumpur, the details differ slightly:

First Contact – 8:29 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:07 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 8%)
Last Contact – 9:48 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

An animation of the solar eclipse.

Another animation of the solar eclipse.

We arrived at the program around 8:40 am but were unable to get a view of the eclipse as the sky was too cloudy. Luckily, at about 9:40 am, the clouds cleared away giving us a view of the eclipse before the clouds covered the sun again. There were six telescopes set for the program and 1500 people attended the program too.

The reason for this long eclipse is simply because now is July; a time when the Sun is farthest away from Earth (aphelion), thus is smallest in size. And the Moon also just passes it nearest point to Earth (perigee), thus it looks big in our sky. When a small Sun is blocked by a big Moon, the Moon will have more time to block the Sun.

The next total solar eclipse shall occur in 2132! That’s 123 more years to come (what a beautiful number!). That’s why I feel so lucky to be able to experience this eclipse. It shall be an unforgettable memory which I shall treasure in my heart forever and ever…

Alarming numbers of criminal cases


Last weekend a son of my parents’ good friends was attacked by unknown men near a restaurant in Petaling Jaya. He and his friends were walking out of the restaurant and heading towards their car when suddenly they were confronted by a group of men demanding for his laptop. He declined to give in and in the attempt to snatch the laptop, the attacker slashed the victim’s hands using a ‘parang’ (a long, sharp and heavy knife; similar to machete). One of his hands was badly hurt and he almost lost three of his fingers. As the result of the severe cut, the doctors warned that he may not be able to use the fingers as before.

What happened to the once a very safe Kuala Lumpur? Not only we are facing an alarming numbers of criminal cases; the criminals are getting more and more daring. It is terrifying to see crimes happening all around us even in open crowded places and in bright day light (refer to ‘Crimes and More Crimes’).

Allahyarham Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi (the founder of Khalifah Institute) who spent many, many years studying social problems in Malaysia and in a few other countries used to warn me about all these problems. Having the opportunity to be one of his students, I learn to be more sensitive about social problems.

One may ask why must we cry out loud over a small crime? As Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi said every single crime no matter how small it is should be taken seriously for if we just ignore it, the criminals will commit ‘bigger’ crimes in the future. So, instead of regarding it as ‘just another incidence’ we should regard it as ‘not another incidence!’

Where had we gone wrong? Our citizens are supposed to be more educated and knowledgeable than they were just 20 years ago but why are we facing all these problem? Look at Japan, the United States of America and Singapore, crime do happen but not as alarming as in Kuala Lumpur. Stern actions has to be taken immediately to curb these problems before they get even worse. I hate to think of the day when everybody has to carry a weapon themselves every time they go out in order to protect themselves.

We need to understand the core of the problems in order to find effective solutions to curb crime. Material achievements seems to be too important to us that we sometimes ignore the importance of spiritual achievements and humanity. We ignore all the important values of religions and humanity for money and power. We are even destroying our Earth by over polluting and over developing the hills and mountains. If only we can make ourselves good, help others be good and make the physical world good, clean and beautiful – we may be able to make Kuala Lumpur a safer and better place to live in (refer to ‘Our Solution To A Better Future‘)