Wednesday, July 22, 2009

live from jinshanwei

JINSHANWEI - Day turned to night as the moon covered the entire face of the sun in the longest total solar eclipse of the century.

The sky darkened and the lights of the seaside town of Jinshanwei turned on at 9:35 this morning to the cheers of dozens of Filipino, American, European, and Japanese tourists, who, along with the local residents, waited on the beach front from 7 in the morning for the start of the cosmic show.

Members of the UP Astronomical Society Total Solar Eclipse Expedition (UPASTSEE) set up cameras, telescopes, and other observation equipment to view and document the entire event. "We want to tell a story to our grandchildren", said Team Leader Jodl Gayatin, "this was the longest solar eclipse of our lifetime, and we were there."

However, the event was marred by heavy cloud cover over Jinshanwei - much of the Shanghai area was overcast starting the previous night. The sun was hidden from view for the most part of the morning, just peeking from behind the clouds from time to time. The UPASTSEE barely got enough pictures of the different stages of the eclipse, although video taken during the event showed the effects of the eclipse and the reactions of the people viewing it.

Totality ended at exactly 9:41. A brief break in the clouds at that exact moment revealed the beautiful diamond ring effect characteristic of total solar eclipses. Rain fell immediately after.

The eclipse ended at 11:01 here at Jinshanwei. Greatest totality - a full six minutes and thirty-nine seconds - occurred over the Pacific Ocean just off Japan's Ryuku Islands.

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