Chinese sky viewers will see two total solar eclipses in the next two years, an astronomer has said, depicting the chances as "once in a century."
The two total solar eclipses will fall on August 1, 2008 and July 22, 2009, said Zhu Jin, curator of the Beijing Planetarium, at an on-going astronomy meeting held in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.
People of more than 10 cities in central and northwestern China, including Luoyang, Jiayuguan, Sanmenxia and Yuncheng, will have the chance to see the total solar eclipse next year, which is predicted to occur at about 6:20 p.m. and last about two minutes, Zhu said.
While more people from more than 40 cities along the Yangtze River, including Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Wuhan, will have a chance to enjoy a spectacular total solar eclipse in 2009, which will happen at about 8:00 a.m. on July 22 and last for more than five minutes, he said.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is caught between the sun and the earth while each of them moves along their fixed orbits. Chinese astronomers were believed to be the first to record solar eclipses more than 3,000 years ago.
During the last century (1901-1999), 78 partial and 71 total solar eclipses have been reported worldwide.
Many parts of China experienced a partial solar eclipse on March 19 this year, lasting around one and a half hours in the morning.
A partial solar eclipse on March 29 last year was caught by viewers in western China's Xinjiang Uygur, Tibet and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions, as well as in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.