Clouds eclipse event of the century

Expectations belied Hordes of enthusiastic sky watchers denied of heavenly sight

Kids waiting to have a look at the Solar eclipse at Visvesvaraya Museum in Bangalore on Wednesday morning. DH Photo

While visibility was largely affected across the vantage points, where it was possible to view the eclipse in full, members of the Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS), who have chosen Varanasi to grab the once-in-a-life-time opportunity of a total eclipse were rewarded with the view of the sun silhouetting behind the lunar mass for three minutes.

"For that moment, the whole environment- including river Ganges in front of us went grey," recalled Vivek, a member of the group that had positioned itself to observe the eclipse nearly 24 hours earlier. "The sky remained clear pretty much throughout the night, but just after the dawn there was a slight cloud cover, because of which we missed a few minutes of the eclipse. However, the sky cleared once again before the totality occurred."

Members of the Association of Bangalore Amateur Astronomers (ABAA) were able to catch a glimpse of the sun's halo behind the moon just as the eclipse was reaching its peak at 6.30 am. The association's President Jayant Basavarajiah and Vice President Prakash Subanna viewed it from the banks of river Palguni near Gaya.

"It was quite a thrilling experience," Prakash told Deccan Herald over the phone from Gaya. "During the early morning, as we travelled to this place we observed a large cloud cover and thought we were missing the whole thing. However, just about 6.30 am the cloud started to clear away and we saw the eclipse through a thin veil of cloud. The whole experience of standing on a river bank and observing the darkened sky appeared magical."

"This is definitely worth the effort (of travelling to the place)," said Jayant. "Though there was a thin cloud we were able to observe the carona and we have taken videos of each phase of the eclipse."

However, a pall of gloom hung over Dibrugarh in Assam, where a second group of BAS members positioned themselves to watch the eclipse. Pavan Keshavamurthy, who waited along with a few others in the Eastern corner was disappointed to watch dark clouds blanketing the sky, drawing the curtains over one of the most exciting celestial phenomena.

"We couldn't see much as it was raining in the early morning here," Pavan said. "Except may be for the darkening of the place during the eclipse's totality, nothing was visible. It was certainly very disappointing after having travelled all the way from Bangalore to watch the eclipse," Pavan said.

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