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Dense cloud threatens to keep eclipse watchers in the dark

Dense cloud may spoil the view of the solar eclipse in the city on Wednesday, weathermen said yesterday, but they said a more accurate forecast would be available on Monday or Tuesday.

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau also said there could be a thunderstorm that day.

Street lights will be on during the eclipse on Wednesday morning. The Shanghai Electric Company has an emergency plan to ensure traffic safety in the city, officials said yesterday.

"The operation will be similar to that when thunderstorms hit in summer," said Wang Changxing, an official with the company. "Fortunately we know the exact time when the sky will turn black."

The city has more than 20,000 street lamps, most of which are controlled by computer.

Meanwhile, there's controversy over whether landscape lighting should be on during the period.

Officials from Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said yesterday that the bureau was discussing with other departments, astronomical experts and citizen representatives on whether to turn on landscape lighting during the eclipse. A final decision will be made on Monday.

"If the landscape lights are on, we will make it clear when and how long they should be on in our decision," said Liu Weiguang, a bureau official.

"The lights should be turned on before the city is plunged into darkness and turned off after the sky becomes to lighten."

However, that hasn't pleased some people, who don't want to see landscape lighting spoil the effect of the eclipse.

Tang Haiming from Shanghai Astronomical Observatory said road lights were needed for safety reasons, but large landscape lighting was unnecessary.

"On the contrary, it can impact the effect of people enjoying the solar eclipse," Tang said.

"Travelers are coming to Shanghai to see the eclipse not the landscape."


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