Today a total solar eclipse was visible from Shanghai – or at least, it should have been visible because about 15 minutes before the eclipse it started to rain hard! A pity, especially for the many tourists that traveled to Shanghai from all over the world to watch the event.
I had seen one total eclipse before in Stuttgart in August 1999, a few months before I moved from there to China. That time we were more lucky, because the clouds opened up just in time to watch the eclipse. Shanghai was not that fortunate, but it was still amazing to see it getting completely dark within a minute and then bright again a few minutes later. I took some pictures (with time stamps), so you can see how quickly it went.
Right before and during the eclipse lots of police were on the street to make sure the traffic would not come to a total stand still. That only worked partially, because the moment the sky suddenly turned dark people stopped their cars to watch. Only when it was completely black they started to drive again.
Most people were very excited before the eclipse already, and on TV, in newspapers and on the Internet the eclipse was a major topic. However, some people didn’t care about it: the workers in our building kept on painting the building during the eclipse, totally unaware of the natural phenomenon that was happening outside.
Despite the rain I enjoyed seeing the full eclipse. It’s just so weird to go from full daylight to a pitch black middle-of-the-night feeling within minutes. The fact that the sun was not visible because of the clouds during the actual eclipse was a pity, but the fact that it gets totally dark is actually much more interesting to me. Not so interesting as to fly all over the world to see another eclipse, but if I would happen to live in the place where a future eclipse will take place I will certainly watch it again. If you like to travel to see one, next year there will be one in Tahiti and in 2012 you can see one in northern Australia. The next big one in China seems to be in 2035, when Beijing will turn completely dark.
If you want to see some videos of the eclipse, you can go to Tudou where we have a whole channel for the 2009 eclipse: http://www.tudou.com/home/09riquanshi
The pictures I took before, during and after the eclipse are here as a set on Flickr.