People watch the massive tidal bore in Haining, Zhejiang province, yesterday. The natural spectacle happened hours after the total solar eclipse and was caused by the impact of gravity from the moon upon the ocean. Shen Da
For people not able to witness yesterday's once-in-a-century eclipse, the world's largest tidal phenomenon was a close second.
While millions looked toward the sky to view the eclipse, tens of thousands gathered at Haining of Zhejiang province to watch the extraordinary surging tide of the Qiantang River.
The tidal bore, as it is known, is caused by the moon's gravity pulling large amounts of water into a narrow river. Because of the funneling effect, the tide rushes back upstream in a fast-moving wall of water.
Though tidal bores occur around the world, the only known place in China is the Qiantang River, where the peculiar bottleneck shape of Hangzhou Bay creates the world's tallest tidal bore - up to 9 m in height.
Because July 22 this year fell on the same day of the Chinese lunar calendar when the spring tide usually appears on the Qiantang River, many believed the largest tidal bore of 2009 could occur a few hours after the sun and moon fell into perfect alignment.
With the combination of the eclipse and the tidal bore once in hundreds of years, Haning became a popular place for astronomy lovers who paid a double-benefit trip here for the big event.
Local media reported hotels and inns in Haining were all booked, and Haining authorities were fully prepared for receiving tourists from home and abroad.
People in Guangzhou yesterday visited temples to avoid misfortune during the solar eclipse.
"When I was a child, I was told praying for blessings in a temple is a must during phenomena like lunar and solar eclipses," said 62-year-old Liang Meifeng.
She also asked family members to eat vegetarian food yesterday.
"Traditionally, both praying and having vegetarian food can help us avoid misfortune and bring about peace to families after the eclipse," she said.
At the downtown Liurong temple, dozens of locals prayed for blessings yesterday morning during a partial solar eclipse.
Although scientists had said no direct relation exists between the natural phenomenon and misfortune, "we see more visitors (during an eclipse)", said a worker at the temple surnamed Huang.
(China Daily 07/23/2009 page3)