An estimated 300 million people in China will be able to see a total eclipse on Wednesday which is the longest in 500 years, according to an observatory in Nanjing.

The coming total solar eclipse, which is expected to last for 4-6 minutes, will be the longest that can be observed in China between 1814 and 2309. An area of 250 km wide and 10,000 km long, where people can observe it, covers the populous Yangtze River valley including several big cities.

In this area, people can observe four to six minutes of total eclipse, said Cheng Zhou, astronomer with the Chinese Academy of Sciences Purple Mountain Observatory based in Nanjing of eastern Jiangsu Province.

Local media reported that the prime time of the total eclipse was expected to begin from 9 a.m. to 9:38 a.m. (Beijing Time).

Zhou said viewers in parts of 11 provinces in China's southwestern, central-southern and eastern areas, such as Tibet, Hunan and Jiangsu, will be able to witness the total solar eclipse, while in most parts of Shanghai, viewers can see the spectacular phenomenon.

For viewers in other provinces, including Beijing, they can observe a partial eclipse, he said.

Wang said the next total solar eclipse that can be seen in China will fall on March 20, 2034.

But it can only be seen in remote provinces, such as Tibet and Qinghai. It cannot not be compared with the upcoming one, in terms of duration and number of cities that can see the eclipse, he added.

The last total solar eclipse visible in China took place on August 1 last year. It was observed in northwest China and lasted two minutes in Yiwu County of northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the best place to see the phenomenon.

Jiaxing City, eastern China's Zhejiang Province, is one of the places where the eclipse can best be observed. All its hotels and inns are fully booked by eclipse watchers, 6,000 of whom traveled from abroad, according to local tourism administration.

National Astronomical Observatories have placed a number of live studios within the totality path. In the worst case, people can watch the scene via live coverage on TV or on the Internet, as long as one studio can observe the scene.