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Weather casts stormy shadow over city party

AS there is no favorable update in the city weather forecast for this morning's historic total solar eclipse, some overseas visitors to Shanghai yesterday opted to head to Chongqing, in southwest China, in the hope of a better view.

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau has predicted heavy cloud, rain and thunderstorms for this morning.

"It will be difficult to see the eclipse in these weather conditions," Chen Min, the bureau's chief service officer, said yesterday.

Zhao Junliang, a researcher and former director of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, is scheduled to be at Yangshan Island for live coverage with a city television station. "It is such a pity for all the people, including me, who want to see the eclipse," Zhao said.

Yangshan Island, south of Shanghai, is considered one of the best observation spots.

At least 30 overseas enthusiasts among the 200-odd people who specially came to Shanghai under the organization of Eclipse City, a German-based eclipse event manager, flew to Chongqing yesterday afternoon.

Jean-Luc Dighaye, the founder of European amateur astronomy group EurAstro Association, led half of its 20-odd members who came to Shanghai on the Chongqing expedition.

Most of the Eclipse City tour group members are from Europe and three-quarters of them are high-end enthusiasts with high-tech equipment.

The rest of them will still go to Yangshan with Eclipse City, in cooperation with the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory.

"We kept updating local weather reports for these enthusiasts and introduced backup plans," said Lynn Wang, the organization's public relations official.

"Many fans still chose to go to Yangshan with us. We will arrange TV broadcasts of the eclipse from other areas if it rains in Yangshan."

United States visitor Robert Pine has seen six eclipses in different countries in the past 12 years.

"Eclipses give me a reason for going to an exact place at that time," he said.

A total solar eclipse was last visible in Shanghai in 1575 and will not be seen again until 2309.

Today's eclipse is expected to begin at 8:23am and end about 11:01am, with the total phase lasting more than five minutes, in Shanghai.


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