Scientists flock to Bihar village to watch eclipse

Hotels in Patna flooded with booking requests for July 21 and 22

At least five of them from Germany, Italy and France are likely to land here on July 21. A newly constructed hospital at Taregana, which can accommodate a limited number of people, has been converted into a temporary observatory. It is from here that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will also observe the celestial spectacle on Wednesday.

Apart from Taregana in Bihar, the full solar eclipse can be best viewed from Surat in Gujarat, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, besides some parts in Arunachal Pradesh.

Hotels in Patna have been flooded with booking requests for July 21 and 22 as people from far-off places have expressed their desire to proceed to Taregana to watch the solar eclipse which would last for three minutes and 48 seconds, starting a little after sunrise.

Longest eclipse

Experts say the eclipse will be the longest one this century –– lasting six minutes 39 seconds over a part of the Pacific Ocean.

The excitement for the celestial sight is all the more palpable precisely because it will be the first total solar eclipse of the 21st century to be visible from India. The country will have to wait for another 25 years for the next such event.

As all roads lead to Taregana, the place,  buzzing with activity, has its own “astronomical significance.”  “Tare-gana” means counting of stars. It was here that the sixth century astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta (AD 476-550 ) camped here for his studies.
The maths wizard, who first proposed that the earth revolves around the sun, and developed the concept of zero, used to gaze and count stars, along with his pupils. Later the place got the name Taregana.

A little far off is village Sonekukra. “Sone” means red and “kukra” means one having authority on studying planetary movements. It was in Sonekukra where Aryabhatta is believed to have watched the red planet Venus, because of the best visibility from there.
No wonder this place has become a “star” attraction for the July 22 event.

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