Cautiously, Chinese try creative ways to watch rare solar eclipse
www.chinaview.cn 2009-07-22 18:11:47   Print

    By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua

    SHANGHAI, July 22 (Xinhua) -- As a rare six-minute total solar eclipse fell across Asia Wednesday morning, ordinary Chinese tried creative ways to watch the phenomenon without damaging their eyes.

    Though many ideal observation spots were under rain or clouds, days of heavy media coverage had fanned public curiosity.

    Astronomers suggested people wear glasses specifically made for watching solar eclipses to protect the eyes from harmful rays, but supplies were too few for the millions of observers, so most people improvised.

    Liu Guifang, 52, who works for a cosmetics company in the southern suburbs of Shanghai, held two pieces of paper parallel about a meter apart, and poked a tiny hole with a diameter of around 2 millimeters in one.

    She could then look at the reflection of the eclipse on the other piece, which made the solar rays much weaker.

    "I learned this from TV," she said. "It's very easy and should be safe."

    But only after a couple of seconds, Liu retreated to the building. "The light is still too strong for my eyes."

    At about 9:36 a.m., the sun was totally blocked. Road lights were turned on and it was like night. Only then, could Liu and her family enjoy the scene.

    In downtown Shanghai, Geri Yao, a 26-year-old translator at Shanghai International Studies University, dared not watch the sky directly despite the rain.

    After failing to buy a pair of specialist glasses, Yao prepared a telescope, a pair of normal sunglasses and some paper boards.

    "But experts warned against watching the eclipse using common sunglasses and I was a little worried about my eyes," she said.

    During her half-day off work specially to watch the eclipse, Yao only watched on TV the live broadcast of partial eclipses in west China, where the weather was better.

    In Nanning, capital of southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 67-year-old Gan Yaofang took with her a piece of glass used in electric welding. Others used exposed camera or X-ray films.

    Gan said she could clearly and comfortably see a "curved sun" through the glass.

Editor: Zhang Xiang
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