An inability to properly see the eclipse over the city on Thursday morning led to scenes of frustration and anger across several venues.
Touted as an event of the year, scores of Benglureans had been anxiously awaiting the celestial event. Frustration mounted, however, as poor visibility conditions refused to lift.
Much of the aggravation apparently stemmed from the fact that many had spent as much as Rs 50 to obtain eclipse-viewing spectacles. According to Pramod G Galgali, Director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, over 6,000 such viewers had been sold by the planetarium alone in the days leading up to the eclipse.
“We initially had a stock of 4,000 viewers, but when these were sold out, we ordered a further batch of 2,000 to sustain demand,” he said.
The plans at the planetarium were elaborate, which prompted nearly 2,000 people turn up. “We had five telescopes ready to broadcast live images of the eclipse and a range of activities set to capture the moment. But everything was thwarted by the cloud cover,” said Galgali.
Forty to fifty high school students from Bengaluru and Hosur were also at the planetarium, ready to jot down measurements of the sun and the moon and carry out a battery of observation related to the eclipse itself. Coelostats, which are elaborate mirrored devices to project detailed images of the eclipse onto a screen, were also at hand, but could not be used.
The situation was much the same at Lal Bagh’s Kempegowda Tower, where a floating population of over 1,000 had gathered, according to E Basavaraju Eregowda of the Karnataka Jnana Vijnana Samithi. A DH staffer described the mood of the crowd as angry and disappointed until 9.45 am, when they caught a brief, first glimpse of the eclipse, in its waning phase, as the moon began to pull away from the path of the sun.
Observatories in other parts of the state, such as Mangalore, Karwar and Dharwad enjoyed better visibility and were able to collect detailed data of the eclipse, which was then sent onto the Nehru Planetarium, so that the students could at least carry out some of the scientific activities which had been planned.
“Everywhere, astronomers had good luck, except those in Bengaluru,” Galgali said, laughing.