Thousands of skywatchers flocked to Russia and China to witness Friday's total eclipse of the sun.

The spectacle, which occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, began in Canada Friday then crossed Greenland, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Crowds of people, many of them foreign tourists, gathered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, in the direct path of the eclipse.

China's Xinhua news agency reported about 10,000 tourists had gathered at an observation square in the city of Yiwu.

The entire eclipse was anticipated to last two hours, although the sun is only being completely blocked for two minutes.

Some superstitiously inclined people view solar eclipses as a dark omen, of possible significance to China, which kicks off the Olympic Games in Beijing next week.

The next solar eclipse will occur next year on July 22 and will also  be visible in China, as well as India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Burma.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.