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Tuesday, 21 July 2009 19:17

NASA announces longest solar eclipse in 21st century

Six minutes, 39 seconds is the maximum duration of the total solar eclipse (seen in some parts of the world), which is due to begin early in the morning of July 22, 2009, starting in the Gulf of Khambhat, east of India.

In the July 20, 2009 NASA media brief “Longest Solar Eclipse of the 21st Century” the total solar eclipse is described as: “Morning fishermen will experience a sunrise like nothing they've ever seen before. Rising out of the waves in place of the usual sun will be an inky-black hole surrounded by pale streamers splayed across the sky. Sea birds will stop squawking, unsure if the day is beginning or not, as a strange shadow pushes back the dawn and stirs up a breeze of unaccustomed chill”

The next longest solar eclipse will occur on June 13, 2132.

NASA states that the solar eclipse will start in the Gulf of Khambhat, and then proceed east through India, China, and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

People who will have the best chance to see the total solar eclipse are located in: 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.

The total solar eclipse on July 22, 2009, will be even more dramatic because the Earth and Sun are at their furthest point from each other. And, the Moon and Earth are at their closest distance from each other.

So, humans get to see a large-looking Moon cover a small-looking Sun.

Some major cities whose citizens will see the total solar eclipse include Shanghai, Surat, Vadodara, Bhopal, Varanasi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hefei, and Hangzhou. With so many major cities in the path of the total solar eclipse, there is the possibility that millions of people will see it. NASA says that it could be the most watched total solar eclipse.

An interactive map is provided on the NASA web site “Total Solar Eclipse—June 22, 2009.”

Please be warned that special indirect methods should be used while watching any solar eclipse. Viewing of the Sun without indirect viewing methods is dangerous and could result in permanent damage to your eyes or even blindness. Always protect your sight and never look directly at the damaging rays of the Sun.

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