Total Solar Eclipse-the longest in 2009: Millions of people in Asia viewed the longest total solar eclipse this century last Wednesday as swaths of India and China are plunged into darkness.
Scores of amateur stargazers and scientists travelled long distances for the eclipse, which lasted for about five minutes. The eclipse first appeared in the Gulf of Khambhat just north of Mumbai.
It then moved east across India, Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China before hitting the Pacific. The eclipse crossed some southern Japanese islands and was last visible from land at Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific nation of Kiribati. Elsewhere, a partial eclipse was seen visible across much of Asia.
The previous total eclipse, in August 2008, lasted two minutes and 27 seconds. This one lasted for six minutes and 39 seconds at its maximum point. Alphonse Sterling, a Nasa astrophysicist who was following the eclipse from China, scientists were hoping data from the eclipse would help explain solar flares and other structures of the sun and why they erupt.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth so that the Sun is fully or partially covered. This can only happen during a new moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth. At least two and up to five solar eclipses can occur each year on Earth, with between zero and two of them being total eclipses.  Total solar eclipses are nevertheless rare at any location because during each eclipse totality exists only along a narrow corridor in the relatively tiny area of the Moon's umbra.
A total solar eclipse is a spectacular natural phenomenon and many people travel to remote locations to observe one. The 1999 total eclipse in Europe helped to increase public awareness of the phenomenon, as illustrated by the number of journeys made specifically to witness the 2005 annular eclipse and the 2006 total eclipse. The most recent solar eclipse occurred on January 26, 2009, and was an annular eclipse. On July 22 2009, was the total solar eclipse which occurred.
In ancient times, and in some cultures today, solar eclipses have been attributed to supernatural causes. Total solar eclipses can be frightening for people who are unaware of their astronomical explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear in the middle of the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes.
It will be visible from a narrow corridor through northern Maldives, northern India, eastern Nepal, northern Bangladesh, Bhutan, the northern tip of Myanmar, central China and the Pacific Ocean, including the Ryukyu Islands, Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Totality will be visible in many large cities, including Surat, Vadodara, Bhopal, Varanasi, Patna, Dinajpur, Guwahati, Chengdu, Nanchong, Chongqing, Yichang, Jingzhou, Wuhan, Huanggang, Hefei, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Huzhou, Suzhou, Jiaxing, Ningbo and Shanghai, as well as over the Three Gorges Dam. According to some experts, Taregana in Bihar is the "best" place to view the event. A partial eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including most of Southeast Asia (all of India and China) and north-eastern Oceania. This solar eclipse is the longest total solar eclipse that will occur in the twenty-first century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132. Totality will last for up to 6 minutes and 39 seconds, with the maximum eclipse occurring in the ocean at 02:35:21 UTC about 100 km south of the Bonin Islands, southeast of Japan. The uninhabited North Iwo Jima island is the landmass with totality time closest to maximum, while the closest inhabited point is Akusekijima, where the eclipse will last 6 minutes and 25 seconds.
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