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Ring of fire sweeps across sky
Publication Date : 22-05-2012
An annular solar eclipse was observed Monday in a region stretching along the Pacific side of the country from southern Kyushu to southern Tohoku.
The annular eclipse, a phenomenon in which the moon blocks out most of the sun, leaving a ring of light around its circumference, was last observed in Japan in 1987, but only in Okinawa Prefecture.
This is the first time in 932 years--since the Heian period (794-1192)--that an annular eclipse has been observed in wide areas of the country.
Although it was mostly cloudy Monday due to the influence of a weather front to the south of the Japanese archipelago, a huge number of people, including groups and tours organised to observe the eclipse, were enthralled whenever they were able to glimpse the ring of light through breaks in the clouds.
The eclipse began in southern China, and gradually moved east. People in Tokyo were able to view the full annular eclipse for about five minutes from 7:31am.
About 200 people, including company workers heading for work, were seen stopping to gaze up at the sky in front of JR Shimbashi Station in Tokyo.
Company employee Takao Sato, 59, of Moriya, Ibaraki Prefecture, said he was unable to buy a pair of special glasses to observe the annular solar eclipse, although he checked at six convenience stores and other shops.
Sato was finally able to view the eclipse by borrowing three different types of glasses from people around him. "I was able to enjoy various images of the eclipse. I feel like I'll be able to do a good job today," he said.
Those outside the main viewing areas were able to enjoy a partial eclipse Monday, with up to 84 per cent of the sun eclipsed by the moon in Sapporo and up to 93 per cent in Sendai.
Another annular solar eclipse will be observed in Japan in June 2030, but only in Hokkaido.
Japan will have to wait until 2312 to observe an annular eclipse over wide areas of the country.