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Total Solar Eclipse Coming on July 22, 2009

Millions of people in India, China, and other parts of Asia will witness a total solar eclipse on July 22, 2009. Cities such as Surat, in India, as well as Chengdu, Shanghai, and Wuhan, in China, will experience the eclipse’s totality. Visitors at the Taj Mahal, which is listed as one of the modern world’s seven wonders, will witness this eclipse. This eclipse will also occur in places such as Japan, where Tokyo’s residents will witness a partial eclipse.

Many claim that this solar eclipse will be the longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132. The umbra* travels along a track that is about 15,150km (about 9414 miles) long and covers 0.71 percent of the Earth’s surface area over a course of three hours and 25 minutes. The eclipse’s maximum duration of totality will be six minutes and 39 seconds. timeanddate.com created an animation of the solar eclipse’s path.

Where will the Eclipse be Visible?

According to NASA, The path of the moon's umbral shadow begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China before curving south across the Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse is seen within the much broader path of the moon's penumbral (partially shaded outer region) shadow, which includes most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean.

The Eclipse’s Path

The central line of the moon’s shadow begins in India’s Gulf of Khambhat (Bay of Cambay) at 00:53 Universal Time (UT), according to sources such as NASA. The eclipse track is 205km wide at its start as the umbra quickly travels east-northeast. People in the city of Surat, India, will experience a total eclipse for three minutes and 14 seconds.

Eclipse Path on 22th July 2009

This image shows the solar eclipse’s annular path on July 22, 2009. The different shades of red depict the eclipse's visibility, with the strongest and innermost shade depicting 75 percent visibility, followed by 50 percent visibility, 25 percent visibility, and down to as low as zero percent visibility. The maximum eclipse is visible at various locations.

The shadow then moves on to the city of Indore where totality occurs for three minutes and five seconds. By 00:55 UT, the umbra is in central India where it stretches diagonally across two-thirds of the country. The Taj Mahal in Agra experiences a deep partial eclipse of magnitude 0.906 at 00:56 UT. Kolkata (Calcutta) can view a partial eclipse of magnitude 0.911. The shadow reaches the region between Nepal and Bangladesh at 00:58 UT. Outside the path, Kathmandu experiences a partial eclipse.

The eclipse’s central line then reaches Bhutan at 00:59 UT. After leaving Bhutan, the track continues to the northeastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The umbra’s center reaches the India-China border at 01:05 UT, where the totality duration is four minutes and 26 seconds. The southern half of the umbra sweeps across northern Burma (the Union of Myanmar) before the entire shadow enters China’s Yunnan province and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The city of Chengdu, in China, is totally eclipsed for three minutes and 16 seconds at 01:13 UT. The Chongqing municipality’s urban center experiences a totality lasting four minutes and six seconds at 01:15 UT. Wuhan, which is the fourth largest city in China, will experience a totality lasting for five minutes and 25 seconds at 01:27 UT. Hangzhou will see a total eclipse of five minutes and 19 seconds at 01:37 UT. Shanghai will experience five minutes of totality at 01:39 UT.

After crossing the East China Sea, the umbra encounters Japan’s Ryukyu Islands (Nansei Islands) at 01:57 UT. The island of Yakushima experiences three minutes and 57 seconds of totality. Akuseki-shima experiences six minutes and 20 seconds of the total eclipse. Tokyo will witness a partial eclipse at 02:13 UT.

The shadow encounters the Japanese islands of Iwo Jima and Kitaio Jima at around 02:27 UT. These islands experience five minutes and 13 seconds and six minutes and 34 seconds of totality, respectively.

Greatest Eclipse Occurrence

The instant of greatest eclipse occurs at 02:35:19 UT (latitude 24° 13ʹN, longitude 144° 07ʹE) when the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closest to the Earth’s center. The totality here is six minutes 39 seconds. The path width is 258km (about 160 miles) around this time. The rest of the eclipse’s path makes no major landfall – it arcs southeast through the Pacific Ocean hitting only a handful of small atolls (islands consisting of a circular coral reef surrounding a lagoon).

Eclipse’s Final Moments

Enewetak Atoll, an island that was a nuclear test site in the 1950s, will experience totality for five minutes 38 seconds at 03:31 UT. The eclipse track’s final landfall occurs on Nikumaroro Island (Gardner Island), where the total phase lasts three minutes and 39 seconds. The lunar shadow once again becomes a long, drawn-out ellipse. In its final few minutes, the umbra’s velocity accelerates while the sun’s altitude and the central duration decrease. As the moon’s shadow lifts off the Earth and returns to space, the central line ends at 04:18 UT.

Eclipses in 2009

The July 22 eclipse is not the only eclipse in 2009. The list of eclipses for 2009 includes:

timeanddate.com will provide updates about more eclipses closer to the time of their occurrence.

Useful tools

The World Clock’s Time Zone Converter helps eclipse enthusiasts and travelers discover when the eclipse will occur in cities’ local time (eg. Wuhan). Links on the results page to the chosen city will allow people find out weather information for the eclipse’s date. It is important to note that the temperature may drop as the partial phases progress. This can affect cameras’ and telescopes’ focus, which should be checked as totality approaches. The Day and Night World Map allows people to see the sun’s position at any given date, including on July 22, 2009. More useful tools are found at the bottom of this page.

* An umbra refers to the fully shaded inner region of a shadow, especially the area on the Earth or the moon experiencing totality in an eclipse.

Note: Universal Time (UT) is a timescale based on the Earth’s rotation. UT is about 0.23 seconds ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) during most of July. Eclipse information courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and P. Harrington, author of Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why & How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses.

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