Eclipse obscured by lousy weather

KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) Scientists and amateur stargazers gathering on Japan’s southwestern islands were mostly disappointed Wednesday after poor weather prevented them from witnessing a total eclipse of the sun.

However, astronomers who were on Iwoto Island, formerly known as Iwojima, about 1,200 km south of Tokyo, and adjacent areas in the Pacific were treated to the spectacular astronomical event as they observed the first total solar eclipse visible on Japanese soil in 46 years.

On Amami Island, where a total eclipse of 3 minutes and 32 seconds began at 9:55 a.m., spectators who had come from across Japan expressed delight when the eclipse was occasionally seen through breaks in the clouds.

“I was excited to actually see the eclipse,” said Yuki Koyatsu, 27, from Chiba Prefecture.

On Akuseki Island in the southern Tokara chain, the sun was hidden by clouds at 9:35 a.m., when it was due to start darkening for a total eclipse of 6 minutes and 25 seconds — a span that would have been the longest visible from a residential area in Japan.

Citing the possibility that intensifying wind and rain could signal a tornado, Kinki Nippon Tourist Co., which organized observation tours to the island, called on visitors to take shelter at a local gymnasium and other places in the morning. The time for observing the eclipse ended before 11 a.m. amid rain and cloudy skies.