Double treat for stargazers in July

A total eclipse of the sun will be visible on July 22 from within a narrow corridor that traverses half of the earth starting in India and crossing through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. After leaving mainland Asia, the path crosses Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean.

Its duration will total 6 minutes and 39 seconds, making it the longest solar eclipse to occur in the 21st century and it will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132, astronomers said. A penumbral eclipse of the moon will slightly dim the earth’s only natural satellite on July 7. It will not be visible to naked eyes as the magnitude will be 0.156. It will be the second of four lunar eclipses in 2009.

China’s largest city Shanghai will witness the total solar eclipse for five minutes. Across the East China Sea, the eclipse will sweep over Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Iwo Jima.

Greatest eclipse occurs in the South Pacific at 02:35:19 UT. At this instant, the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closest to the earth’s centre.

The next total solar eclipse will be on July 11, 2010 which will be seen from South Pacific, Chile and Argentina.

A partial eclipse is seen from a much larger area covering East Asia, Indonesia, and the South Pacific.

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