Total Solar Eclipse July 22nd 2009 Draws Crowds and Superstitions
The total solar eclipse, the longest eclipse of the 21st century, that takes place July 22nd 2009, but July 21st 2009 in the western part of the world, is drawing thousands of people to Panchagarh, a tiny town in northern Bangladesh and across areas in north India, eastern Nepal, north Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, the Ryuku Islands, Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.
The eclipse will last 6 minutes and 39 seconds in some parts of the Pacific Ocean.
The eclipse will start at 5:24 pm PDT on July 21st 2009.
Between 6:37pm and 6:43pm PDT the sun will be totally covered by the moon.
At 8:03 pm PDT, the moon will make its last contact with the sun.
Tourists are rushing to see this elcipse, which will be the only opportunity in their lifetime to see such an event in person. Another eclipse like this one is not scheduled for another 150 years.
However, this event is also inviting superstitions as well as mass tourism, as some are claiming that events of this nature incite mass violence and turmoil and present a sense of impeding doom.
Ancient eclipse records made in China and Babylonia are believed to be over 4,000 years old, and there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians observed solar eclipses over 4,500 years ago.
The ancient Chinese believed that solar eclipses occur when a legendary celestial dragon devours the Sun. Hindu Mythology also believes the sun gets eaten during a solar eclipse.
In India, many people often won't eat because the lack of sun makes food impure, and expectant mothers do not want to give birth on the day there is an eclipse as it is thought some babies could be born with birth defects.
"This is a belief deeply rooted in Indian society. Couples are willing to do anything to ensure that the baby is not born on that day," Shivani Sachdev Gour, a gynecologist at the Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, told AFP .
Astrologers in India are predicitng natural disasters or even a world war.
Scientists say there is nothing to be alarmed about as it is just a natural event that is a marvel to see.
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