Clouds dampen eclipse watching in DK, Udupi

star power:  (Clockwise from top left) The solar eclipse as it was visible in Udupi; Devotees performing rituals for the dead on Aati Amavaasya in Mangalore; Prof Jayanth explaining the Eclipse phenomenon to students at Sandesha in Mangalore on Wednesday. dh photoPublic had responded well to the wide publicity to the event, turning out in large numbers from far and wide places to watch the total solar eclipse that occurred soon after sunrise.

The Amateur Astronomers’ Association of Mangalore had set up a huge telescope at Sandesha for the convenience of the enthusiastic public that included little kids, school children, college students, professionals and veteran scientists. Prof Jayanth of St Agnes College explained to the crowd, the phenomenon of eclipses, both solar and lunar and assisted them in handling the telescope. He also cleared a number of doubts regarding the phenomenon.

He said that an eclipse is just a shadow play when the Sun, Moon and Earth come in the same line. When the shadow of the moon falls on the Earth concealing sun from the vision, it is solar eclipse. On the other hand, when the shadow of the earth fall on the moon, concealing the latter, it is lunar eclipse. The shadows of earth and moon are present in the space all the time, but we call it eclipse only when the three spheres come in the same line and the shadow of one falls on another, he explained.

The total solar eclipse on Wednesday was the fourth eclipse in the year 2009, which is incidentally the international year of Astronomy. The previous three eclipse took place on January 26 (Solar-Annular), February 09 (Lunar-Penumbral) and July 07 (Lunar-Penumbral). “We will be able to witness eclipses on August 06 (Lunar-Penumbral) and December 31 (Lunar-Partial) as well,” he informed.

The eclipse on Wednesday started at 5.28 am and continued till 10.32 am. It was visible in different parts of the world for 6 minutes duration. In India, Patna was the major centre, where the eclipse was expected to be most visible. In Mangalore, if everything went right, the eclipse would have been visible between 6.14 am and 7.16 am.

In Udupi
The dreams of watching solar eclipse was not fulfilled for the people in Udupi as clouds posed an obstruction.
Students and teachers had come in large number to Poornaprajna Management College terrace to have a glimpse of the eclipse. The programme was organised by Poornaprajna Astro Club. More than 50 specially made glasses had been brought to the venue.

Eclipse and Aati amavasya
Incidentally, Wednesday also marked Aati Amavasya. It is believed that drinking ‘paleda kashaya’ on Aaati Amavasya would keep the body and mind healthy for the whole year. Hence this milky bitter decoction is consumed on an empty stomach early morning to enhance the immunity system and thereby prevent diseases.

The palasha tree on aati amavasya is believed to have 1001 medicinal properties and drinking this concoction was considered as a remedy for all diseases. Scientifically, it is believed that the tree has many medicinal values. Another interesting aspect of this aati amavasye is that people irrespective of their religion, caste or creed follow this tradition in South Kanara.

On the occasion, Kadri temple had organised a special pooja wherein a large number of devotees took part.

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