January 4, 2009
Folks living in or traveling to India, Nepal, and China will have the opportunity to witness the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century this year on July 22. The circumstances for this eclipse are nearly identical to those of the total eclipse seen in Hawaii and Mexico on July 11, 1991. During a total solar eclipse, the moon covers the blinding face of the sun to reveal its faint outer atmosphere, called the corona, as seen in this image from the 1991 Mexico eclipse. The U.S. won't get a total eclipse of the sun until Aug. 21, 2017.
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Four hundred years ago this year, Italian scientist Galileo Galilei aimed his homemade telescope to the heavens and opened up a new era in astronomy.