While the best observation place in China for Friday's solar eclipse is a small county in the far-away Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, most people can also see it in all its glory on their laptop.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will broadcast the total solar eclipse, the first in China this century, live on the Internet, the Division of Information Technical Sciences (ITS) said on Tuesday.
On Aug. 1, the total eclipse will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses half the Earth. The path of the moon's umbral shadow will begin in Canada and extend across northern Greenland, the Arctic, central Russia and Mongolia before ending in northern China.
A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of the moon's partial shadow, which includes northeastern North America, most of Europe and Asia.
It will make its final stop at sunset in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province.
ITS will provide live eclipse coverage in Xi'an from 6:20 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Internet. Two astronomers will have an online discussion with netizens.
Nanjing Purple Mountain Observatory of CAS (www.pmo.jsinfo.net) and Shanghai Astronomical Observatory Online (www.astron.sh.cn/live/2008eclipse) will also broadcast the eclipse live.
In China, Yiwu County, 500 km east of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, will get the best view of the eclipse. It will start at about 7 p.m. (Beijing Time) and last about two minutes.
People in Hong Kong and such provinces as Shanxi and Gansu will also see a total or partial eclipse. It will not be visible in Beijing.
It is advised not to look directly at the sun with the naked eye or through a telescope. According to astronomers, it's safe to project the sun's image through a pinhole or a telescope onto a piece of white paper or cardboard.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and Sun, totally or partially blocking the Earth's view of the sun. The next total solar eclipse will occur in China in January.
(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2008)