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The longest total solar eclipse

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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 01:58:57 am »

Tens of thousands of people — from renowned astrophysicists to farmers — descended on a muddy Indian village yesterday to watch the best solar eclipse of the 21st century from what was predicted to be one of the finest vantage points on the planet.

There was only one problem: when the key moment came, it was cloudy.

The luxuriously thick monsoon cloud cover that had formed over Taregna in northern India overnight obscured any view of the heavens from the moment “first contact” was made between the Moon’s shadow and the Sun to the point of totality — when the Sun was completely obscured and the sky turned black.

Over Taregna, where every rooftop was populated with throngs of spectators as the Sun appeared to set just an hour after rising, the eclipse lasted three minutes and 38 seconds. The descent into darkness was met with whooping and hollering from a massive crowd, who had spent an hour listening to a state-sponsored lecture seeking to dispel the belief that eclipses portend ill fortune But the return of daylight was met with bigger cheers.

The village is said to be where Aryabhatta, the most renowned Indian astronomer of antiquity, observed the heavens. Some believe that he invented the concept of “zero” here. He also made some of the earliest accurate predictions of when eclipses would occur.

In the Thai capital, Bangkok, dozens of monks led a mass prayer at a Buddhist temple to ward off what they said would be ill-effects.

The eclipse began in the Arabian Sea. The band of complete darkness first hit the western Indian state of Gujarat shortly before 6.30am local time. The shadow then raced at 15 times the speed of sound across the subcontinent before reaching Nepal and blacking out much of Bhutan. After clipping Bangladesh and crossing Burma, it moved on to China before hitting the ocean once more off Shanghai.

The trajectory is likely to have made it the most widely experienced eclipse in history, according to Nasa, with an estimated two billion people cast into total or partial darkness.

It was, however, the duration of the blackout that made this eclipse extraordinary. Over the Pacific Ocean the Sun disappeared for six minutes and 39 seconds, a duration that will not be matched until the year 2132.

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« on: July 22, 2009, 03:06:15 am »

i remember seeing a total eclipse when i lived in Cyprus in the 60s, lasted about 2 minutes and was awesome with total darkness , all the birds stopped chirping.....ive been fortunate in life seeing many things that most people only read about........... angel

The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century will be visible in a 155 miles corridor, according to Nasa, as it travels half the globe and passes through the world's two most populous nations, India and China.

The eclipse began at 5:28am local time (2358 GMT) in India and will last up to a maximum of 6 minutes and 39 seconds when it hits the Pacific Ocean.
Eclipses allow earth-bound scientists a rare glimpse at the sun's corona, the gases surrounding the sun.

Starting on India's west coast north of financial capital Mumbai, the eclipse began above the ancient Hindu holy city of Varanasi on the Ganges river.

Tens of thousands of people snaked through the narrow lanes of Varanasi and gathered for a dip in the Ganges, an act considered to lead to salvation from the cycle of life and death.

Amid chanting of Hindu hymns, men, women and children waded into the river with folded hands and prayed to the sun as it emerged in an overcast sky.

"We have come here because our elders told us this is the best time to improve our after-life," said Bhailal Sharma, a villager from central India, who came to Varanasi with a group of about 100 people.

The eclipse was due to sweep through Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China's financial hub Shanghai, before heading to the Pacific.

"In the 21st century this is the longest," said Harish Bhatt, dean at the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

"This is indeed quite an important event for scientific experiments.

Its long duration provides you an opportunity to make very complicated, complex experiments."

The eclipse is seen as a mixed blessing for millions of Indians.

Crowds across the country will bathe in holy rivers and ponds for good fortune as they consider the solar blackout auspicious.

But according astrologers' predictions, the eclipse spells bad luck for others and expectant mothers have asked doctors to advance or postpone births, fearing complications or a miserable future for their children.

Parents in several schools in India's capital, New Delhi, said they would not send their children to class as the eclipse coincides with breakfast. According to Hindu custom, it is inauspicious to prepare food during an eclipse.

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