Asia darkens under longest eclipse

Rain, clouds fail to stop people who came out in droves for a glimpse of the rare monent

a ha! Children watch the solar eclipse through protective glasses outside a planetarium in Taipei on Wednesday. AFP

Viewing for many was marred by heavy clouds and rain, but the drama of the total eclipse — as darkness swept a narrow path across the continent — was unmistakable.

Jiaxing in Zhejiang province, picked out by China’s National Astronomical Observatory as one of the best spots to view the phenomenon, was drenched by rain after days of fine weather. Forecasters had warned all eight of the selected sites could suffer bad weather.

Thousands of foreign tourists had come to the little-known city of 3.5 million inhabitants.
They reportedly included a party from India who had feared monsoon rains might obscure their view at home.

Around a thousand gathered in a public square for an official ceremony to mark the occasion. There were cheers when a glimpse of sun briefly broke through the clouds, shortly before the eclipse was due to begin at 8.22.20.

Visitors grabbed their darkened glasses in anticipation, following reminders that viewing with the naked eye could damage their eyesight. But they would have little chance to use them: shortly afterwards the heavens opened and torrential rain hit the six viewing spots.
The phenomenon began at dawn over the western coast of India, passing over Surat, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi and Patna, Nasa said. It moved east across Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh and Bhutan and then along China’s Yangtze river valley, home to 300 million.
In Bangladesh, people came out in droves.

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