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Wednesday 30 July 2014
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'We lived at the right moment'

Anupama Ramakrishnan

DUSK AT DAWN

Although the solar eclipse was not properly visible in Bangalore, astro enthusiasts ventured out to be a part of the lifetime experience

The celestial show passed on without much dramatics in the City. In fact, none at all. Darkness swept across many faces as weather played spoilsport denying the City of a much-awaited spectacle. While some lucky Bangaloreans watched the heavenly dynamics from Varanasi and from ‘sun-side’ seats and ‘earth-side’ seats on chartered flights, the ones who stayed back chased the eclipse from outdoor venues, planetarium, homes and indeed from their armchairs.

But for amateur and professional astronomers and those with a passion for the heavenly bodies, it was an emotional moment as they described with gusto whatever little they could see, even if that was on TV. Bangalore Astronomical Society vice-president Naveen Nanjundappa, on the other hand, said he was thoroughly disappointed as he could barely see anything. “I tried to watch it from Hebbal but it was almost invisible. I would have ideally liked to go to Patna, Varanasi or Dibrugarh. In fact, 20 to 22 members of our Society are there and have had a great view. They have also taken photographs.”

One of the Bangaloreans, Amar Sharma, spoke from Varanasi after witnessing it, “We took the gamble and came here. It has paid off. We were on the banks of the Ganges and saw the partial eclipse at around 6.10 am. After a while, we could see more than 60 per cent of the eclipse. And by 6.30 am, it was total eclipse. And then everything went off so fast, it was so overwhelming. Especially watching the ‘diamond ring’ at the time of the exit. We were running from telescope to binoculars to camera and filters to get whatever view we could. It looked divine,” he exclaimed.
   
The interest in science and astronomy has suddenly found a spurt among young minds. Discussions surrounded around shadow bands, Bailey’s heads, diamond ring, flash spectrum. Professor Ravish, doing his research at Indian Institute of Astrophysics, informs that although the eclipse view was not satisfactory here, it brought out a renewed interest in astronomy. “The IIA had arranged for telescopes at Lalbagh and more than 150 people came over to watch. Many came up to me with queries on creating telescopes and taking photographs of the eclipse. There were mothers in large numbers inquiring about courses in astronomy and astrophysics. The young people who came to watch included engineering students and morning walkers.”


 So the City used everything possible from telescopes, specially-designed goggles and binoculars with solar filters to see the celestial dance. B Uthkarsh, a class ten student of Poornaprajna High School, Sadashivanagar had to be content watching the eclipse with a solar filter at home. The avid sky gazer says, “Last time I watched it at the planetarium, this time, it was too early for that. I would have liked to go to Varanasi or Patna. Unfortunately, I had school.” 

While some found it interesting to check the animal behaviour patterns during the time, others were upbeat on studying the properties of the sun visible only during solar eclipse. Puroshottam, a software engineer, describes the eclipse as a miracle although he saw it on TV. “I thought it was indescribable. To think that this was once in a life time event, made the sight even more beautiful. But outside, it was gloomy and no mark of eclipse was seen.” 

In the midst of superstition, medical counsel and eclipse on the Net, some sky gazers did notice the slight darkening of the sky. Naveen says, “This was special as it was once in a lifetime opportunity. A time when moon and sun appeared to be of the same size. It was a good opportunity for students. We should be proud that we lived at the right moment.”   

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