The longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium began at 11.06 a.m. Friday in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, as thousands of people converged to watch the celestial spectacle.

Annular solar eclipse occurs when the Sun and the Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon's shadow is smaller than the visible disc of the sun, making it appear like a ring of fire. The eclipse is expected to peak to annular eclipse at 1.15 p.m.

Rajendra Ratnoo, district collector of Kanyakumari said: “Television sets have been set up at the viewing centre near the Public Works Department guesthouse. A telescope has been connected to a plasma TV for people to see.”

He said around 750 students from 25 states have come to Kanyakumari to witness the celestial spectacle.

According to the police, around 150 security personnel have been deployed as they expect around 15,000 people to visit the viewing centre.

Seven telescopes have been set up in addition where facilities have been made to view the eclipse through pin hole and mirror projection.

The last time India saw this 'Ring of Fire' was Nov 22, 1965, and it will not be witnessed again before June 21, 2020. The next longest annular solar eclipse will be seen in 3043 and hence Friday's eclipse is considered as Pongal Bonus.

While visibility of the eclipse will be more in Tamil Nadu as compared to other parts of the country, within the state the visibility is longer in Rameshwaram and Danushkodi around 580 km from the state capital.

Scientists and common people gathered at Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram and nearby Danushkodi to witness and study this rare celestial phenomenon.