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First full annular solar eclipse seen in Taiwan for nearly 6 decades

2012/05/21 16:07:32

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) A full annular solar eclipse was clearly visible on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu Monday, the first for 54 years, while some astronomy buffs in northern Taiwan were able to catch a glimpse of it through the clouds.

Matsu, where the sky had cleared after days of rain, was the best location in Taiwan to watch the phenomenon this year, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB). Astronomy fans on the three islets of Matsu were able to see the rare event for the longest time -- up to 4.5 minutes, the bureau added.

Observers on Kinmen, however, saw it first, at 6:08 a.m., the bureau said.

In Taiwan proper, where heavy clouds covered the sky despite a frontal system moving away sooner than expected, only some lucky skywatchers in the Taipei, Keelung, Hsinchu and Taoyuan areas were able to see the eclipse.

The last full eclipse seen in Taiwan occurred in 1958.

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

People in central and southern Taiwan, where only a partial eclipse was visible, will have a chance of seeing an annulus on June 21, 2020, the CWB noted.

(By Chen Shun-hsieh and Kendra Lin)