July 22, 2009--
The moon slowly blots out, and then uncovers, the sun in a series of pictures taken from a cruise ship off Japan
between 10:10 a.m. and 12:49 p.m. local time. Lasting as long as 6 minutes and 39 seconds in some areas, the solar eclipse
's period of totality (center)—when the sun appears to be completely blotted out by the moon—was the longest of the entire 21st century.
Beyond totality, the distinct, jewel-like bursts of light just before and after the total solar eclipse were highlights, said solar eclipse scientist Jay Pasachoff
, who watched from Tianhuangping, China
, where skies were plagued by intermittent clouds.
"The diamond rings [center left and right] were spectacular. Just before totality, the clouds were just the right thickness that allowed us to see partial phases without filters."
Photographs courtesy National Astronomical Observatory of Japan