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Egypt temple's biannual solar alignment phenomenon blocked by fog

Fog prevented the 3,200-year-old astronomical ceremony from taking place, letting down hundreds of visitors

Ayat Al-Tawy, Monday 22 Feb 2016
Abu Simbel
Tourists dismayed as fog blocks sunlight from illuminating Abu Simbel's inner sanctum (Photo: Aswat Masriya)
Views: 3389
Views: 3389

Hundreds of tourists were let down when they gathered at dawn at the ancient temple of Ramses II in Egypt on Monday to watch the sun illuminate the site's usually dark inner sanctum, but were instead met with fog and clouds.

In the first such incident in nearly a decade, the gigantic statues in the main temple at Abu Simbel remained shrouded in darkness as the fogs obliterated the sunshine.

"This is the first time the illumination failed to take place in 10 years," Hossam Aboud, director of the Abu Simbel antiquities department, told Ahram Online.

"This is purely due to the weather…It often happens when clouds or fogs block out the sun."

In a rare 3,200-year-old astronomical phenomenon, the sun was supposed to lighten up three of the four 22-meter-high statues at the temple's inner chamber at dawn on Monday for nearly 20 minutes, 

King Ramses II built the temple, carved into a sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile, to align with the sun twice a year to celebrate the pharaoh's birthday and ascention to the throne. Monday marks the king's birthday.

The spectacle at the site, one of the most popular from the Pharaonic era, typically draws thousands of tourists.

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