China’s Total Solar Eclipse on July 22, 2009

By Mo Xinhai

PureInsight | November 1, 2009

[] Around 8 AM on July 22, 2009, a total solar eclipse occurred in Asia with China as the center. Thus it was called the “China total solar eclipse.” The eclipse began from the western India, then crossed Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, and Japan. It was visible in Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai. In some areas, the duration of the eclipse exceeded six minutes.

The total solar eclipse in Asia this time attracted millions observers.

July 22, 2009, a combination picture shows the sequence of a total solar eclipse as observed in Chongqing municipality. (REUTERS)

The total solar eclipse observed on Iwo Jima island, Japan. (REUTERS)

The sequence of the total solar eclipse seen in Baihata, India (REUTERS)

People observed the partial solar eclipse outside a planetarium in Taipei, Taiwan. (Central News Agency)

In ancient China, a solar eclipse was regarded as a bad omen. For example, in the article “Tianwen Zhi” in the Han Book it says: “If the moon covers the sun completely, the emperor changes; if it covers partially, the officials change.” It goes on to say: “The sun symbolizes virtue, the moon symbolizes punishment; therefore a solar eclipse indicates the restoration of virtue while a lunar eclipse indicates retribution.”

In Hou Han Book - Ding Hong Zhuan, it says: “The sun is Yang; when it is full and doesn’t wane, it is a sign of the emperor.” In Jin BookTianwen Zhi, it says: “The solar eclipse is Yin invading Yang. It is a sign that officials will overturn an emperor or a nation will be subjugated.” It continues: “The emperor therefore says the solar eclipse expresses that someone administrates the nation in an inappropriate way.” In the Tang Dynasty, Chunfeng Li wrote in Yi Ji Zhan: “When a solar eclipse occurs, the subjugation of the nation or the death of the emperor will surely happen.”

According to Chinese modern historical record, around the time of a solar eclipse, natural and man-made calamities often occur. Moreover, the more frequently the solar eclipse occurs, the more severe the calamity is. For example, from 1849 to 1857 a solar eclipse occurred three times, during which times occurred the Taiping Rebellion, floods, earthquakes, locust plagues, and foreign invasions.

From 1869 to 1875 a solar eclipse occurred four times and there were floods, droughts, pestilence, and earthquakes. From 1936 to 1943 a solar eclipse occurred three times and there was the War of Resistance Against Japan, plagues of locusts, and famine. From 1965 to 1968 a solar eclipse occurred three times and there was the Great Cultural Revolution and many earthquakes.

Generally speaking, the average span before recurrence of a total solar eclipse at the same place is 300 years. However, a total solar eclipse occurred in China in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and will occur in China in three more years in 2012. This is unprecedented in history.


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