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THE world's most populous nations will gaze skywards on Wednesday as the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st Century lays a carpet of darkness across India and China, from Mumbai to Shanghai.
The event is being hyped in the obscure world of eclipse-chasers as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which, due to its trajectory over some of the most densely inhabited areas on Earth, could end up being the most-watched eclipse in history.
Raj Kumar Sharma, an astrologer in Mumbai, described July 22 as a "very dangerous moment in the universe," with the blocking of the sun's rays akin to a disease or virus.
"If the sun, the leader of the stars, is sick, then definitely there's going to be some bigger problems happening in the world," he said.