But not everyone was impressed, as clouds obscured the partial solar eclipse in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, disappointing residents who were up early to catch a glimpse.

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 300km-wide path that passed through half the globe.

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 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.