India witnesses total solar eclipse,Taregna gets 4 mins of fame!
Taregna gets its 4 minutes of fame
PATNA: A mindboggling two lakh star gazers including researchers, astronomers and scientists, from across the globe descended till Tuesday
midnight on a sleepy Bihar village called Taregna, which has been catapulted to world fame because of NASA declaring it as the ‘best spot’ to view the total solar eclipse on Wednesday.
The duration of the eclipse at Taregna, 35 km from Patna, will be three minutes 48 seconds starting at 6.21 am. Scientists said they would be studying the atmospheric ionization, geomagnetism, asteroids, animals and avian behavioural changes as well as impact on micro-organisms during the celestial phenomenon, the longest in the 21st century.
Hotels in Patna were packed to capacity. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, which offered a package tour to Taregna and back for Rs 500 per head, had its 33 buses booked by Tuesday noon. Travel agencies had all their taxis booked. ‘‘We have now no vehicle to hire out on July 21 and 22,’’ a taxi operator on Tuesday said, adding all his 38 cars were booked.
The hotels received bulk bookings as well. Hotel Chanakya, for instance, was booked to serve as a transit camp for children of Delhi’s Ryan International School on way to Taregna. Another premier hotel, Hotel Maurya, reported housefull with guests including scientists from NASA, Britain, Germany and France.
Starred hotels apart, even other hotels faced the rush. Many Patnaites played host to their relatives based in Kolkata, Delhi and other parts of the country who came to view India’s most spectacular celestial event.
Taregna village, it is said, was the observatory of legendary astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata. Thanks to the village becoming important afresh, the Masaurhi sub-division, under which Taregna falls, is likely to be declared a district, sources in the state government said. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s solar eclipse coincided with the bandh call given by Maoists in five states — Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh — against the price rise. Taregna is one of the worst Naxal affected areas in Patna district. Police and CRPF personnel have been deputed at Taregna for the security of the visitors, ADG (Headquarters) Neelmani said. An area domination exercise was carried out by CRPF personnel in the area on Tuesday, Neelmani said. ‘‘Special Task Force personnel have also been deployed at Taregna,’’ he said.
Cloudy skies mar eclipse in northern and western India
NEW DELHI: Darkness descended soon after dawn across large swathes of land along a narrow path stretching from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh as
skywatchers experienced the longest total solar eclipse of the century this morning.
The dark shadow of the moon the conical shaped umbra made its landfall in Gujarat at 6:30 a.m. and raced across the country within a span of a few minutes spreading darkness in the path of totality.
At many places a thick cloud cover dampened the spirits of skywatchers who had gathered to watch the celestial spectacle.
With the sun blanked out for six minutes and 39 seconds, this was the longest total solar eclipse to occur in the 21st century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132.
In Taregna in Bihar, touted as the best place to watch the eclipse, thousands of astro-enthusiasts were disappointed as clouds refused them a glimpse of the completely eclipsed sun.
However, in Taregna, and most parts of northeast where, clouds obscured the view of the sun, skywatchers were able to experience the eclipse as daybreak turned to night for a few minutes.
In Katni in Madhya Pradesh, stargazers enjoyed every moment of the celestial spectacle from atop the Circuit House Hills for a full three minutes from 6:22 a.m.
The group in Katni was awestruck as they saw the diamond ring phenomenon for a few seconds just before the sun was completely covered by the lunar shadow.
Some amateur astronomers were able to spot a few bright stars which became visible in the momentary darkness as the sun was completely covered giving them a magnificent view of the Corona.
In Delhi, clouds played hide-and-seek but still astro-enthusiasts gathered at several places got a glimpse of the sun. Eighty-three per cent of the sun dial was obscured by the moon.The crescent sun smiled upon the capital when the eclipse reached its maximum of 83 per cent at 6:26 a.m.
Lakhs of pilgrims took a dip in the sacred pond in Kurukshetra, in the Ganga at Varansi, Hooghly in Kolkata and Brahmaputra in Guwahati during the solar eclipse.
Scientists had chartered planes to carry out experiments and film the eclipse from above the clouds. A few well-heeled persons took to the skies in special flights to chase the lunar shadow and view the eclipse.
The path of totality passed over Bhavnagar, Surat, Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal, Sagar, Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gaya, Patna, Bhagalpur, Jalpaigudi, Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Itanagar.
In the ancient city of Varansi, scientists from the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) could observe the eclipse in totality.
"As the day started there was an apprehension that eclipse may not be visible but as the sun rose the celestial phenomena was quite clearly visible," R C Kapoor, a senior official of the IIA said.
The solar eclipse was seen in totality for a duration of three minutes and 10 seconds, Kapoor said.
Cloudy weather played a spoil sport in most parts of Gujarat dampening the spirits of the people waiting to watch the solar eclipse this morning.
In Surat, large number of people had gathered at the airport to witness the solar eclipse.
The sun rose at 0605 hours and soon after sun light there was complete darkness at 0621 hours when sun was completely covered by the moon shadow.
Though the total solar eclipse was not visible due to heavy clouds, the city was in complete darkness for about three minutes of the total eclipse.
Kolkata witnessed 91 per cent of the total solar eclipse despite cloudy skies.
The sun looked like a crescent as the moon's shadow passed between the sun and the earth for a few minutes from 6:20 am.
Incessant rains proved to be a dampener with the people unable to watch the total solar eclipse in Sikkim.
The next annular solar eclipse will occur on January 15, 2010, while next total solar eclipse will occur on July 11, 2010.
An average of 230 eclipses take place in a century and the previous longest duration for a total solar eclipse was registered in 1955, when it occurred for 7 minutes and 31 seconds, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Professor Siraj Hasan said.
Varanasi witnesses total solar eclipse, Taregna under clouds
Varanasi, 7.27 am: It's the end of the eclipse. From our position at the rooftop of a hotel at Assi ghat, we can see hundreds of bathers still swarming in for a dip in the Ganga. But we are still coming to grips with the awesome sights of an hour ago, when for 3 minutes and 4 seconds, the totality held us spellbound. We checked our pictures. Some of us have managed to capture a solar prominence ─ a huge line of fire coming out from the sun's surface and going back in. The group of amateur astronomers is getting news thick and fast from other places. Taregana, Patna, Sasaram all missed the totality to clouds, except for Sasaram where it was visible for 10 seconds. I guess, we were incredibly lucky to have seen the sight of century. ( Watch )
Varanasi, 6.26 am: It was pure magic. Seconds before totality, a diamond ring formed in the sky sparkling with stunning beauty. Seconds later, all went dark. The sun was totally eclipsed. A roar went up as thousands at Assi Ghat cheered in unison. I doubt whether there is another sight quite like this. We are all watching in awe. ( Watch )
Taregna, 6.21 am: It's complete darkness in Taregna, a condition that is going to last for 3 minutes and 48 seconds. Lights have been switched on, probably the only indicator that the eclipse has taken place as clouds still keep the spectacular view away.
Varanasi, 6.20am: It's 4 minutes to totality. The sunshine has turned a pale yellow, it's suddenly gone dark and the noise from the bathers is reaching a crescendo. We continue to have good, clear, view of the sun unlike other places in the region. The air has suddenly turned cool and we are waiting with bated breath.
Varanasi, 6am: A lot of action here at the Assi Ghat, Varanasi. The eclipse is at 60% at the moment. Thousands of bathers streaming in, chanting Hare Ram, Hare Ram. Meanwhile, Varanasi seems to be one of the only sites in the totality zone where the cloud cover is only partial, giving us breathtaking views of the sun through the naked eye as it passes through thin clouds. Waiting to totality with bated breath
Varanasi, 5.31 am: Solar eclipse starts. Being witnessed despite cloud cover.
Taregna, 5.20 am: Clouds threaten to play spoilsport. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy CM and other important people of the area have arrived. A chartered flight carrying eminent astronomers and researchers has left for Taregna from Delhi .
Varanasi, 4.50 am: Dawn has broken over Varanasi and, would you believe it, the sky looks clear! That's a huge relief since the weather sites have been predicting a 'mostly cloudy sky' scenario at this time. We are heading to the Assi ghat on the Ganga. A friend tells us puja has already started. Personally we are praying that the sky remains just as it's now. Keeping fingers crossed.
Taregna, 4.41 am: It’s a sea of humanity all around the Taregna Referral Hospital. On the rooftop of the newly constructed building of the hospital which is yet to become functional. Government has made arrangements for scientists, foreigners and mediamen to view the century’s most spectacular celestial event
Asis K Chaterjee