China – Day 0

Posted by Ted on Jul 17, 2009 in Travel

We’re two hours out over the Pacific, with 9 hours to go until we reach Seoul. While we left San Francisco at 1p on Friday, we won’t reach our hotel in Shanghai until after 10p on Saturday.

As I exited the Embarcadero Bart station yesterday morning, I saw a crescent moon against a clear blue sky, framed by skyscrapers. Ever since it was full, the waning moon has been a countdown to the celestial alignment of the century. The total solar eclipse next Wednesday will be the longest in our lifetimes. The point of maximum totality, 200km off the coast of Japan, will be 6:49 seconds, which will not be exceeded until 2137.

Our preferred vantage point will be the small island of Putuoshan, home to one of the four sacred mountains of Buddhism. Even there we will be able to watch the sun be eclipsed by the moon for over five minutes. 400 times larger than the moon, the sun just so happens to be 400 times farther away from us, which is why they appear the same size in the sky. This extraordinary cosmic coincidence is what makes this magic possible.

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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