The first sun eclipse that can be viewed in China in the new century begins at around 7:00 pm Beijing Time, and will last for about two hours, although the total eclipse will be only two minutes.
The beginning of a sun eclipse is seen in Yiwu, a small pastoral county in Hami Prefecture 500 kilometers east of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Picture taken at 18:16, August 1, 2008. [sina.com.cn]
About 10,000 tourists have gathered at an observation square on Friday in Yiwu, a small pastoral county in Hami Prefecture 500 kilometers east of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's capital.
The China National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has announced Hami in Xinjiang and Jiuquan in neighboring Gansu Province as the best places in China to observe the eclipse.
According to astronomers, the next solar eclipse to be seen in China will occur on July 22, 2009.
Cheng Zuo, a research fellow from the Purple Mountain Observatory based in east China's Jiangsu Province said that his research found that 55 years from now, another sun eclipse would be viewed from Yiwu, Xinjiang.
Eclipses are scientifically interesting because they allow a rare glimpse of the cooler corona, glowing gases near the sun's surface and solar flares, which are normally not visible because of the brightness of the sun, he said.