Century's Longest Solar Eclipse Shadows Asia

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Millions of Asians turned their eyes skyward for the longest solar eclipse of the century just after dawn on Wednesday.

The eclipse was visible across a wide part of the Asian continent. It then moved over southern Japan and then off into the Pacific Ocean. The rare sight lasted as long as six minutes and 39 seconds in some parts of Asia.
    
Excited crowds watched the longest eclipse since July 11, 1991 as murky skies gradually darkened. Some participated in rituals for the rare event. In Shanghai, China, some viewers launched fireworks and danced in celebration.

However, some people saw the event as a bad omen and locked themselves indoors.

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On the tiny Japanese island of Akuseki, island official Seiichiro Fukumitsu said tourists were excited at the phenomenon.

"When the sky started to darken, everyone rushed out to the schoolyard, cheering and applauding," Fukumitsu said. "The sky turned dark like in the dead of the night. The air turned cooler and cicadas stopped singing. Everything was so exciting and moving."
    
Total eclipses are caused when the moon moves directly between the sun and the earth, covering it completely to cast a shadow on earth.

The next eclipse that will rival Wednesday's in length is not expected until the year 2132.

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