Monday, July 13, 2009

City gears up to view eclipse

A number of amateur astronomy clubs in the city have planned trips to Bihar Patna, Nalanda and Biharsharif where the eclipse will be seen for four minutes, which is the longest it can be viewed from anywhere in India. Amateur astronomy club, Khagol Vishwa, has initiated a solar-eclipse awareness drive under which various workshops and lectures will be conducted. Also, last week, noted amateur astronomer Prakash Tupe gave a talk on this important astronomical phenomenon. Secretary of Khagol Vishwa Mayuresh Prabhune said they also plan to go to schools and send out information pieces to students in order to create awareness. "We have prepared CDs with lots of information on the approaching solar eclipse and we will be showcasing them in schools. We have also planned an exhibition with posters, charts, pictures etc. so that students and astronomy enthusiasts may gain extra knowledge." Vice-president of Akashmitra, an association for amateur astronomers, Vandana Singhal said the group has planned some workshops and lectures on the moon and sun, solar eclipses and the practical observations of eclipses from time to time. The last total solar eclipses visible in India were in 1995 and 1999. After the July 22 eclipse, the next total solar eclipse will take place in 2034, mainly in northern India like parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and following that will be another total eclipse in 2087. This is the last opportunity for the present generation to view a total solar eclipse. The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics will be organising lectures by experts till D-Day for enthusiasts. Meanwhile, sunglasses to be used for viewing the solar eclipse are being made available at the venues of these workshops by the astronomy clubs, since it is unsafe to watch the eclipse with the naked eye.