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Heavy clouds likely to dampen excitement over annular solar eclipse

2012/05/19 19:07:09

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Astronomy buffs will have to rely on luck to catch a glimpse of an annular solar eclipse on Monday, as heavy clouds are forecast across the island that day, the Central Weather Bureau said Saturday.

The rare phenomenon, last seen in Taiwan in 1958, is expected to take place at 4:56 a.m. on Monday, when the top right portion of the sun will gradually be covered by the shadow of the moon, which passes between Earth and the sun at that time.

An annular eclipse happens when the moon's apparent diameter is smaller than the sun, which permits an annulus -- the Latin word for ring -- of the sun to be visible after it is obscured from view.

According to the bureau, the full eclipse is expected to occur at around 6:10 a.m. and last for three or four minutes.

The eclipse process is expected to end by 10:49 a.m. and such an event will not take place again until June 2020, the bureau added.

Weather permitting, people in northern Taiwan and the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu will be able to see up to 87 percent of the sun's surface being blocked from view by the moon, the bureau said.

Both the bureau and the Taipei Astronomical Museum will broadcast the event live via their websites and provide links to observatories overseas, so people can enjoy the event whatever the weather is like in Taiwan.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)