The world’s sky gazers hold their breath this morning as the century’s most dramatic total solar eclipse swept over parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. The solar eclipse of July 22, 2009 was the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting as much as 6 minutes and 39 seconds in some place It caused tourist interest in eastern China, Nepal and India.
The eclipse was part of Saros series 136, as was the record-setting solar eclipse of July 11, 1991. The next event from this series will be on August 2, 2027. (The Saros cycle is an eclipse cycle with a period of about 18 years 11 days 8 hours (approximately 6585⅓ days) that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon. One cycle after an eclipse, the Sun, Earth, and Moon return to approximately the same relative geometry, and a nearly identical eclipse will occur west of the original location. A series of eclipses that are separated by one Saros cycle is called a Saros series.)
The exceptional duration was a result of the Moon arriving at the nearest point in its orbit to the Earth— its perigee, with the apparent diameter of the Moon 8% larger than the Sun (magnitude 1.080) and while the Earth reached its farthest point from the sun — its aphelion — at the beginning of this month where the Sun appeared slightly smaller. Another thing is that while the moon eclipses the sun an average of 238 times every century, only 28 percent of those events are total eclipses, in which the sun is completely blocked from view
It was visible from a narrow corridor through northern Maldives, northern Pakistan and 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.
According to some experts, Taregana in Bihar, India was expected to be the “best” place to view the event. A partial eclipse was 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.
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