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Monday, July 04, 2022

Shadow play

While the urge to see this beautiful and rare celestial activity (total solar eclipse) excites many,restrictions and myths too abound adding many dimensions to the spectacular game of hide and seek that will be unveiled on Wednesday morning.

Written by EXPRESS FEATURES SERVICE |
July 22, 2009 4:58:16 am

While the urge to see this beautiful and rare celestial activity (total solar eclipse) excites many,restrictions and myths too abound adding many dimensions to the spectacular game of hide and seek that will be unveiled on Wednesday morning. To ensure that Puneites are not denied the opportunity to experience nature in its most playful form,while protecting themselves from any harmful effects,many organisations,groups,and individuals have made special arrangements for the event.

Muktangan Science Exploratory
The Muktangan Science Exploratory has an array of events planned for the day. Apart from inviting citizens and schools to view the celestial activity through their special solar filters,the organisation is also installing LCD screens to project the image of the eclipse live through video. “If clouds permit,we would show it live. If not,then we have TV screens that will bring in images of the eclipse as seen in Patna,and also images that will be shown on television channels. We have also arranged for solar filters for all. It is a free service that is provided under the aegis of the Community Science Centre,where we aim at imparting education to society at large,” says Ramesh Joshi,director of the organisation.

He says that a solar eclipse exhibition is also scheduled to begin from today and will be on till July 31. “The exhibits will include models of solar eclipse,three-dimensional models of celestial activities,detailed information about such activities and its effects,pictures of celestial bodies and much more,” adds Joshi. About future programmes,Joshi says that the next annual solar eclipse will take place on January 15,2010. “Our team of students and teachers will go to Kanyakumari to witness that eclipse,which will not be visible from Pune,” he adds.

IUCAA
The Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) has been going all out to promote the solar eclipse this year. From selling special viewing glasses for the event to holding lectures for school goers,it has been doing its bit to raise awareness about the event.

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Ashok Rupner,one of the officials says,“As the eclipse will be visible throughout the city from any elevated spot,no special telescopes or mounts will be required to view it. As a result,there are no separate special viewing facilities at IUCAA for the event. However,we are selling special glasses for people to view the sun with. In addition,we also held a lecture about the eclipse for school-going students on Saturday; it was attended by over 1000 students.”

“As far as viewing the sun is concerned,even with special glasses one should not look at the sun continuously,but see it for a few seconds,then take a break and then look again. Even with the glasses on,viewing the sun continuously can damage the eyes. So,it is advisable to take these precautions. On the whole,we are encouraging people to view the eclipse,weather permitting. It’s a once-in-a lifetime chance and should not be missed,” he adds.

Eclipse fact-o-file
* The eclipse will begin with sun rise at 6.09 am. It’ll be at its viewing best at 6.21 am and will be visible till 7.19 am
* The total solar eclipse of July 22 is the longest of this century. The next major eclipse will take place on June 3,2114
* The solar eclipse is also the longest one in India since August 18,1868
* At it’s peak,the eclipse will last 6 minutes,38 seconds and cover 258 km in width.
* The eclipse will be visible in India,South-East Asia,the Pacific and stretch upto Japan.
* The total travel path of the eclipse is 3000 km
* The next total eclipse will be visible only in Jammu and Kashmir on March 20,2034
* Pune will witness a partial solar eclipse,with only 93 per cent of the moon covering the sun

Sign of the times
As Puneites witness the longest eclipse of the century,city astrologers speak on the co-relation of the celestial event with the future of people belonging to particular zodiac signs. According to Pandit Shiv Dutt Dave,the effect of the solar eclipse depends upon the position of the sun in an individual’s horoscope,which varies from person to person.

Astrologer Nirmal Shah,who believes in adopting a scientific approach for his predictions,says,“If the degree with which the sun comes in the aura of the person is not very high,a person’s energy level will not get affected in a major way.” However,he adds,“if you are emotional,the solar eclipse will set off emotions on a very high level.”

City-based palmist and astrologer Rohini Prasad Tripathi feels that people of zodiac signs like Aries,Cancer,Leo,Sagittarius and Pisces should avoid traveling to far-off places and take special care of their health. “This low phase will continue till December 31 of this year. So,the people of these zodiac signs should stay away from all kinds of arguments,” says Tripathi.

While astrologer Tripathi specifies zodiac signs which should be ready to take precautionary measures because of the eclipse,Jyotish Ramesh Pravin says that the solar eclipse will bring a period of excitement,joy and happiness for signs like Taurus,Virgo,Libra and Aquarius.

Eclipsing nature
Even as astronomers and scientists vehemently deny any connection between the total solar eclipse and natural calamities/political upheavals around the world,some observers subscribe to the theory that a catastrophe is in the offing,days after the eclipse. The last longest total solar eclipse took place on Aug 18,1868. Going by the above assessment,both before and after this date,there occurred a series of events,which gave rise to beliefs that the event portends calamities and disasters.
Aug 8 – Earthquake,measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale destroys Arica in Chile
Aug 13 – Earthquakes,magnitude 8.5 and 9 on the Richter Scale respectively kill 25,000 and cause damages to the tune of $300 million in Peru and Ecuador
Sep 25 – Alexander Neuski,an Imperial Russian steam frigate named shipwrecks off Jutland (near Denmark and Germany) while carrying Grand Duke Alexei of Russia
Sep 28 – Battle of Alcolea (Spain) takes place; Queen Isabella II of Spain flees to France
Sep 28 – Opelousas Massacre at St Landry Parish,Louisiana,US (200 blacks killed)
Oct 10 – Cuba revolts for independence against Spain
Oct 21 – Earthquake,measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale at 7:53 AM,centered in Hayward,California causes devastation

Facts
* A solar eclipse in 1919 helped confirm Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity
* Retinal/corneal burns can occur if one stares at the sun without proper protection
* Eclipses are scientifically significant because they allow a rare glimpse of the cooler corona,the glowing gases near the sun’s surface and solar flares,which are normally not visible due to the brightness of the sun.
* The satellite Aditya (meaning Sun in Sanskrit) will take shape on the basis of scientific data gathered during today’s solar eclipse. The studies will focus on the sun’s corona — the turbulent and blazing outer shell — which impacts weather on earth. It will also help understand the impact of solar flares on the atmosphere. Aditya,with an expected lifespan of 10 years,will be launched into space in 2012,and placed in an orbit about 400 km from earth.

Myths
* Pregnant women are advised not to step into the sun during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip
* It is suggested that food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown away as it becomes impure
* Those who are holding a knife or axe or any other sharp instrument during the eclipse cut themselves
* Other interesting stories are: one cannot get a sun tan during an eclipse; one cannot read a newspaper without a light bulb during an eclipse; solar panels stop working temporarily

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