New Delhi: The wait to witness a once-in-a-lifetime celestial phenomenon ends as an eclipsed sun rises over the horizon. And tens of thousands of people all over India wake up to a shaded sunrise and gather at rooftops, planetariums and parks to watch the century's longest total solar eclipse.
The total eclipse, which starts at sunrise in Surat in Gujarat, was expected to last six minutes and 44 seconds, making it the longest till 2132.
The total solar eclipse has brought Bihar's nondescript village, Taregna, into the limelight with scientists, sky gazers and tourists from across the world making a beeline to watch the celestial spectacle.
But a Maoist bandh call in Bihar put authorities in
tenterhooks and threatened to dampen the spirits of the star
gazers. Taregna is the worst Naxal affected place in Patna
The phenomenon is said to be best glimpsed from Taregna, which is suddenly boasting temporary toilets, repaired roads and uninterrupted electricity supply to cater to its many visitors from India and abroad.
"We have been waiting for days, now we want it (the solar eclipse) to happen soon," said Dhananjay Singh, a teacher in a private school who has been asking his students not to miss the event.
Delhi witnesses 85 percent of the eclipse. It begins at 5.30 a.m. and ends at 7.20 a.m, lasting for an hour and 50 minutes.
"I am really very excited about the event. I have already bought a pair of solar glasses from Nehru Planetarium and will watch the total solar eclipse Wednesday morning," said Rahul Singh, a student of Class 12.
Many people also decided to visit the Nehru Planetarium which is organising a public sky watch.
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I cannot miss it at any cost. I along with my wife and daughter will visit Nehru Planetarium sharp at 5.30 a.m. to see all the phases of the solar eclipse," said 65-year-old SN Mitra.
Catch the eclipse
In Surat, where it begins, the solar eclipse comes into play at 5.28 a.m. when the shadow of the Moon touches the earth at local sunrise at a point in the Arabian Sea close to the western coast of India. The eclipse ends at 10.42 a.m. when the moon's shadow finally leaves the earth at local sunset at a point in the south Pacific ocean.
At 6.23 a.m., the central path of the eclipse touches the earth at sunrise at a point in the Gulf of Khmbhat in the Arabian sea near the southern coast of Gujarat.
"People in Delhi will not be able to watch the totality phase of the eclipse. The greatest phase will be around 6.25 a.m. when 85 percent of diameter of the sun will be eclipsed," N. Rathnashree, the director of Nehru Planetarium, told news agencies.
To facilitate people to watch the solar eclipse through the safest possible ways, various scientific groups in the capital organised public sky watches on Wednesday morning.
An air trip to Gaya in Bihar has been organised in a chartered flight from Delhi to chase the eclipse above the clouds at a height of 41,000 feet. The flight has been organised by SPACE.
"We are organising several trips to totality locations for people to watch the eclipse. Believe me people are so excited that they are ready to travel several kilometres from here to have a better view of the eclipse," Chander Bhushan Devgun, president SPACE, told news agencies.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is caught between
the sun and the earth while each of them moves along their
Cloudy skies and the possibility of rain made viewing the celestial spectacle difficult.
The national capital experienced showers Tuesday afternoon, bringing smiles to people's faces but at the same time narrowing the possibilities of clear skies on the eclipse day Wednesday.
"Delhi is likely to receive slight to heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours," an official at the Safdarjung met office told news agencies.
The Uttar Pradesh Met Department also forecast cloudy skies and thundershowers in several places, including Varanasi, Lucknow and Allahabad that could have offered one of the best views otherwise.
"Cyclonic circulation over Uttar Pradesh will result in clouds, which in turn would certainly make eclipse viewing difficult in parts of the state," State Met Director J.P. Gupta told news agencies.
Moreover, a well-marked low pressure area over northwest Bay of Bengal that has concentrated into a depression is likely to move towards the state and could result in rainfall in some parts of the state, he added.
In Varanasi, the maximum totality duration of the eclipse is to be three minutes and 10 seconds. In Lucknow, the solar eclipse begins early Wednesday at 5.31 a.m. and ends at 7.26 a.m.
People in several cities of Madhya Pradesh were also hoping for a clear sky Wednesday, but weather officials in Bhopal have also predicted a cloudy morning.
"There is a strong possibility of cloud cover around the time of eclipse that would last six minutes and 44 seconds," said D.P. Dubey, director of the Regional (Madhya Pradesh) Meteorological Centre.
First Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 23:55