Solar Eclipse "Ring" Seen in some of Earth

A total solar eclipse passing over some of Earth's most densely populated regions on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, may become the most viewed eclipse ever.

People across central India and in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar will briefly find themselves in daytime darkness before the solar eclipse proceeds into China.

Most of the best viewing opportunities are in China, where some 30 million people will be able to witness the solar eclipse in the coastal cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou alone, according to veteran eclipse scientist Jay Pasachoff of Williams College in Massachusetts.

The eclipse will then continue east, passing over Japan's Ryukyu Islands before reaching its maximum duration point over the Pacific Ocean, where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon for 6 minutes and 39 seconds, according to NASA scientist Fred Espenak.

Thousands of overseas tourists and potentially millions of Chinese are flocking to areas along the eclipse path, where hotels are charging higher rates, according to Chinese media reports.

The July 2009 total solar eclipse is expected to have the longest duration of totality in the 21st century, experts say, and should give Pasachoff plenty of data to keep him and his team busy for months.

Pasachoff will see only about five and half minutes of totality from a site in eastern China, but "once you have five minutes-plus of totality, the extra minute that we could have [seen] is not significant," he added.

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