'Eclipse of the century' to pass over city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2009, 12:00am

Tomorrow morning, Hong Kong will witness the most spectacular solar eclipse in half a century, when almost three quarters of the Sun disappears behind the moon.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, causing a shadow to travel across the Earth's surface, obscuring part or all of the Sun. How much of the Sun is blocked depends on where you are on Earth.

At more than six minutes, tomorrow's eclipse will be the longest of this century. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, there will not be another one of its kind again in China until 2309.

Although Hong Kong does not lie in the path of the full solar eclipse, it will still be the largest partial eclipse - blocking more than 75 per cent of the Sun - since 1958.

The partial eclipse will begin at 8.15am and end at 10.46am, with the maximum effect seen at 9.20am. Anywhere with an unobstructed view to the east will be good for enjoying the spectacle - if you know how to look.

The Hong Kong Astronomical Society and National Astronomical Observatories will be holding an observation of the eclipse at the Po Leung Kuk Leung Chow Shun Kam Primary School in Tuen Mun tomorrow.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, despite the magnitude of the eclipse, tomorrow morning will be no less bright than usual - the eclipse may be hard to see.

Ian Chung Chi-man of the Hong Kong Astronomical Society advised the public not to look directly at the Sun. 'If you do not have professional equipment, the safest and easiest way is to project the Sun's image through a pin-hole on a piece of card onto a piece of white cardboard and look at the projection,' Mr Chung said.

He also warned the public not to look at the Sun directly through a telescope as it could result in blindness.

The passing of the eclipse over eight cities, including Hong Kong, will be broadcast live on the mainland.