The interval between a series of similar solar eclipses is called the saros. The interval is 18 years, 11 and 1/3 days. As we witness a great eclipse 2009 July 22, we are in the midst of such a sequence.
The current series started as a partial shadow near the South Pole 1360 June 14 and will phase out as a shadow 2694 September 11, when the penumbra touches our polar north for a last time, having swept 75 dark arcs across, though gradually up the planet.
In totality, this shadow's place of most absolute eclipse is 200 miles east-southeast of Iwo Jima at 2:35 UT, enveloping almost seven minutes.
From inside the passing shade, a brief night casts stars and planets. Beside the absent sun, on the ecliptic glares Venus; Mercury flares as brightly as Sirius; Saturn and Mars blazon. Rigel, Capella, and Procyon upstage lesser stars.
The moving cone of night over China and the Pacific removes, but time - made a span - can be felt from this pattern, vaster than most sequences we are used to, and a part of our planetary heritage.
— Stan Renfro