The solar eclipse that will take place on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 will be a total eclipse of the Sun. It will be the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting at most 6 minutes, 39 seconds. It has sparked tourist interest in eastern China and India. The eclipse is part of series 136 in the Saros cycle, like the record setting Solar eclipse of July 11, 1991. The exceptional duration is a result of the moon being near perigee, with the diameter of the moon 8% larger than the sun (magnitude 1.080). This is second in the series of three eclipses in a month. There was a lunar eclipse on July 7 and now a solar eclipse on July 22 and then a lunar eclipse on August 6.
Jubilant eclipse watchers in China set off fireworks near the banks of the Qiantang River in coastal Zheijiang province as skies darkened overhead for about six minutes. Visitors from countries including Britain, Germany and Australia joined curious Chinese onlookers. Heavy clouds blocked the full eclipse but watchers saw a partial one.
The river bank in Yanguan village drew an exceptional number of watchers because it was also the site of the world’s largest tidal bore, a phenomenon triggered by the eclipse where a giant tidal wave runs against the river’s currents.
Total eclipses are caused when the moon moves directly between the sun and the earth, covering it completely to cast a shadow on earth.