July 22, 2009--
The sun's corona--its hot upper atmosphere--appears as a hazy white halo as the moon slides between Earth and the sun during today's total solar eclipse
, the longest such eclipse of the entire 21st century. (Read the full story on the July 22 total solar eclipse.
The moon's shadow passed over some of Asia's most densely populated regions Wednesday morning, starting in India just after dawn and ending over the Pacific Ocean. At its longest point, over a handful of Pacific islands, the moon completely covered the sun for a full 6 minutes and 39 seconds (solar eclipse video from July 22
Astronomer Jay Pasachoff
of Williams College in Massachusetts was in China to study the eclipse, snapping pictures such as the one above taken around 9:30 a.m. local time.
Pasachoff, a National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration grantee
, had told National Geographic News last week that he chose the site on Tianhuangping mountain (see map
) so he and his team could have a view from the mainland unobstructed by pollution. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
"We saw it!" Pasachoff wrote today on a New York Times blog
. "The clouds kept getting thinner, and we even had a pretty good-sized hole in the clouds for the five minutes of totality."
Photograph by Jay Pasachoff