Around 15,000 people gathered to watch a beautiful total eclipse shroud parts of Siberia in complete darkness today. The eclipse passed last over China.
Jay Pasachoff, an American, professor who travelled to Novosibirsk for his 47th eclipse, told Reuters: "It's very dramatic and awe-inspiring when the darkness suddenly comes. That's why thousands of tourists go to see."
According to reports the eclipse, shown here, was partially visible in parts of Canada, Greenland, Moscow and even parts of China, but the northern city of Novosibirsk was the best place to view it.
The Siberian eclipse was broadcast live on Chinese State TV, though in more northerly parts such as Khotan - where a Times journalist watched it live with the local villagers of this remote area - a partial eclipse was viewable.
Dave Balch is one of the legion 'eclipse-chasers' that travelled half-way round the world to see this one.
“I’ve come all the way from California for this. It’s going to be my 11th eclipse, I try to see them all,”
In China, legend surrounds the eclipse. In ancient times they believed that a solar eclipse was caused by a dragon or dog swallowing the sun - and the modern Mandarin word for the phenomenon, rishi, is made up of the characters for “sun” and “eat”. Few still believe that, but in Khotan he claimed "this remote town felt that something very strange was happening".
The Times spoke to locals there regarding the old legends, and how superstitions still affect them.
"It could be good or it could be bad – it depends on the interpretation," said Mr Liu, who was selling inflatable penguins beneath a statue of Chairman Mao. "I read a book about it once, but I forgot it all.”
Others were certain the eclipse would a harbinger of misfortune. “This kind of thing means trouble,” said the woman in the soft drink stall. “It’s difficult to explain but it’s very abnormal when something happens so suddenly like this.”
“It’s not bad luck, so much as uncertainty,” she said. “How can it be good, when the sun disappears? You don’t know what it means, and I don’t know what it means. But the Heavens know.”