NASA Earth pictures show extent of eclipse

A Japanese satellite took this image of the eclipse an hour before totality.
NASA has released new pictures of the Earth showing the vast extent of Wednesday’s spectacular solar eclipse.

The longest solar eclipse of the century cast a wide shadow for several minutes over Asia and the Pacific Ocean, luring millions outside to watch the spectacle. Day turned into night, temperatures turned cooler in cities and villages teemed with amateur stargazers. The total eclipse started in India on Wednesday morning and moved eastward across Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, China and parts of the Pacific. Watch the ‘exceptional’ eclipse » NASA said the two images, left, were taken from a Japanese satellite. The first showed the Earth at 8.30 a.m. local time in Taiwan and the second, an hour later, when the moon completely overlapped the sun (called totality) casting a huge shadow over the area.

The longest period of totality occurred over the Pacific, where the total eclipse lasted more than six minutes, NASA said. View the eclipse in pictures » Total eclipses occur about twice a year as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun on the same plane as Earth’s orbit.