22 July :Thousands of skywatchers burst into an applause as darkness descended soon after sunrise as the moon came in between the earth and the sun during the total solar eclipse on Wednesday morning.
Excited scientists and researchers including from abroad were all geared up to conduct experiments in several institutions when the solar eclipse raced across the country.
The celestial spectacle, due to its trajectory over China and India, ended up being the most watched eclipse in history and was of three to six-minute durations in the cities where the shadow of the eclipse passed.
The eclipse was first seen in Surat at sunrise in South Gujarat.
Astronomers and lay persons who had gathered in Dibrugarh in Assam witnessed the total eclipse between 6:31 a.m. and 6:34 a.m.
However, their counterparts in Taregna in Bihar, touted as the best location to watch the longest eclipse in a century were not so fortunate as clouds played spoilsport blanking out the early morning sun.
The Indian cities through which the shadow of total eclipse passed are Surat, Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal, Sagar, Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gaya, Patna, Bhagalpur, New Jalpaigudi, Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
Millions of devotees thronged to Kurukshetra, Varanasi and Allahabad for holly dip.
The celestial spectacle began at 5:45 a.m. and most parts of the country woke up to see an eclipsed sun as the moon passed between the earth and the sun. It ended at 7.24 a.m.
In Delhi, clouds played hide-and-seek but still astro-enthusiasts gathered at several places got a glimpse of the sun. Eighty-three percent of the sun dial was obscured by the moon.
The crescent sun smiled upon the capital when the eclipse reached its maximum of 83 percent at 6:26 a.m.
Several skywatchers watched the celestial spectacle from Nehru Planetarium where special arrangements were made.
Projectors, telescopes and special solar view goggles were made available to the people who gathered to have a glimpse of the cosmic event.
The last partial solar eclipse occurred on 26th January 2009.
Many people who had gathered at the planetarium were brimming with excitement as they watched the celestial show.
Teenager Sachi, who came to the planetarium to watch the event, said “It is the first time I am seeing such an event”.
“In 1980 I first saw the solar eclipse. However, things are different now,” she said, adding now we have specialised solar goggles to watch it.
An amateur astronomer Mushir (14) described the whole event as great.
“It is probably the first and last time I am seeing the eclipse. It feels great,” he said.
Kolkata witnessed 91 percent of the total solar eclipse despite a cloudy sky early this morning.
Incessant rains, however, proved to be a dampener with the people in Sikkim unable to watch the total solar eclipse this morning.
But people in Haryana in the north got a chance to view the celestial spectacle.
Pilgrims made a beeline to take bath in the holy sarovars in the state since Tuesday night. Tight security arrangements were made in view of the pilgrim rush.
People at several places in the desert state of Rajasthan were left disappointed as the eclipse was not visible from maximum places in the state following cloudy weather.
The eclipse was, however, seen clearly from Bikaner, Kota, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ganganagar and Hanumangarh.
Residents of the Pink city Jaipur got a glimpse of the eclipse at 0632 hrs for one and half minute.
Visibility of the eclipse, according to experts, was between 75 to 87 percent. The celestial event began in the state at 0546 hrs and ended at 0723 hrs.
In the western part of the country, rains and clouds denied the celestial treat to avid sky watchers.
At the Katara hills in Bhopal, rains played spoilsport and the eclipse could not be seen although it was dark during the three-minute period.
However, the eclipse was visible in Katni in Madhya Pradesh.
Taregna disappoints eclipse watchers
Cloud cover left thousands of people gathered in Taregna, touted the best place to watch the century’s longest total solar eclipse, disappointed on Wednesday but the momentary darkness that enveloped the town was enough to cheer the onlookers who burst into a collective applause.
This nondescript sub divisional town, 30 km from Patna, where ancient astronomer Aryabhatta (476 AD) had set up an observatory to track the movement of stars, was considered the best place to view the event and drew the most footfalls from home and abroad.
Astronomers, scientists besides the people in thousands had gathered for the early morning show, but were disappointed as they could not witness the actual eclipse because of a cloudy sky.