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July 20, 2009

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Lights out for solar eclipse on Wednesday

AFTER authorities have decided not to turn on landscape lighting during the total solar eclipse on Wednesday, the weather is now the only possible threat to a good view of the rare phenomenon.

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau has forecast a thunderstorm on Wednesday with the temperature ranging between 27 and 33 degrees Celsius. A more detailed weather forecast for Wednesday will be available this morning.

The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said it won't turn on landscape lighting during the eclipse after considering the opinions of resident representatives, experts and other government departments.

The bureau had received a suggestion via the Shanghai Sports Bureau to turn on landscape lighting along the Bund for 20 minutes during the eclipse.

Many astronomical fans objected, claiming the lights could ruin eclipse viewing.

"Due to the negative opinion of many and the poor effect of lighting on a thunderstorm day, we decided not to turn on the lights," Liu Weiguang, a greenery and public sanitation bureau official, said yesterday.

Tang Haiming from Shanghai Astronomical Observatory hailed the bureau's decision and said: "It will be a pity if it rains or is really cloudy on Wednesday morning.

"However, the city will still be plunged into darkness even if we can't see the eclipse," he said.

Yesterday, the city issued a yellow heat alert in the morning and the high peaked at 37.7 degrees in Xujiahui area. It was the sixth day in succession with the mercury above 35 degrees.

The yellow alert - the lowest level of a three-tier warning system - indicates that the temperature will rise to 35 degrees or above.

The heat will continue early this week with a high of 38 degrees today and 35 degrees tomorrow, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said. The mercury is expected to drop to 33 degrees on Wednesday.


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