2010 begins with a celestial spectacle on Jan 15

2010 begins with a celestial spectacle on Jan 15


Rated as one of the best  space shows, this cosmic occurrence will be the first since 1980, and it will not be seen before 2019, Debashish Sarkar, national executive member, Confederation of Indian Amateur Astronomers, told Deccan Herald here on Wednesday. However, this unique phenomenon can be witnessed from a narrow patch in India.

A ten-member team from sky watchers’ association (SWAN) has been preparing for the past six months to carry out experiments on the annular solar eclipse at Rameswaram with a huge cache of instruments.
With the January 15 celestial spectacle, the Indian sub-continent will have witnessed two solar eclipses within a span of seven months. The first one occurred on July 22, 2009. The next such combination of eclipses will be visible in India on January 10, 2168, to be followed by the annular solar eclipse on July 5, 2168, Sarkar said. People in north Bengal, eastern and northern India will have the opportunity to witness partial phases of the annular eclipse on January 15, but they will miss the most important annular phase.

“It is only from a narrow patch of South India that the heavenly sight of the ring of fire or annular phase of the eclipse will be visible,” said Sarkar who is also the secretary of SWAN.

The global shadow path for the annular eclipse will be visible from within a 300-km-wide track that will traverse half the earth. The path of the moon’s shadow begins in Africa at 10:44 IST and passes through Chad, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia.
The path, after leaving Africa, will cross the Indian Ocean where the maximum duration of annularity reaches—11 minutes 08 seconds. The central path then will continue through Asia, along the extreme southern part of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. 

“Rameswaram, the southernmost tip, happens to be one of the most advantageous points of the entire shadow track, and the ring of fire will be visible from there for around 10 minutes,” Sarkar claimed.

A partial eclipse will be seen with a much broader path across the entire country and Bangladesh. The moon’s shadow will touch the Indian sub-continent at 1237 hours and leave at 0118 hours.

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