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Old Fox

Full Solar Eclipse - 22nd July 2009

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by , 12-14-2012 at 05:07 PM (967 Views)
This coming July 22nd, India shall witness a spectacular cosmic phenomenon. A total Solar Eclipse. The totality though will not be visible over the entire country but near-totality is just as spectacular to witness and experience. I have a small software (Planetary Lunar and Stellar Visibility version 3.1.0 and can be downloaded from www.alcyone.de) that provides a lot of interesting information about our visible stellar bodies. The pictures below give a fair idea of the spread, totality percentage, timings and azimuth angle of the eclipse as visible from New Delhi.

Of course the Sun should NOT be looked at with the naked eye under any circumstances (eclipse or no eclipse), except when it is pretty low on the horizon (during sunrise and sunsets). The intensity and content of direct solar radiation can do irreversible damage to the retina and can result in permanent blindness. There are a number of ways of watching the eclipse but the safest is to use your present day digital cameras (esp. the ones that have the live-view facility). No, just dont put your eye to the view-finder and start taking pictures. Angle the camera towards the eclipsed sun while watching in the live screen. (Take care not to instinctively look up directly at the Sun while framing the pic). The sensor will not be damaged by the light and you can also zoom in real good to have a nice shot of the eclipse.

Pic #1 below shows the initiation stage of the eclipse. This will be an at-the-crack-of-dawn event this time. All the better. With the Sun low on the horizon and lots of atmosphere between us and the solar disc, the chances of damaging the eye by a stolen look at the Sun diminishes. The Moon would begin eclipsing the Sun just as the latter peeps out of the horizon. The picture shows a 5% coverage of the Suns disc at 0540hrs when the Sun is just half a degree above the horizon. (see the yellow highlighted figures).


Pic #2 shows the maximum coverage of the Suns disc 83%. This happens at around 0628hrs and the Sun-Moon combo has risen some 9.8 degrees above the horizon. This interesting part of the eclipse, when the solar disc is covered for more than 60% of its area, lasts about 30 minutes between 0612hrs and 0642hrs.




Pic #3 shows the eclipse petering off. The Moons disc slides out gradually and by about 0728hrs, the Moon has cleared the Sun again and the last full solar eclipse of the century is over.






Be there to take pictures of this amazing cosmic sight. For Delhi xBhpians, I suggest a ride to Sohna and the fortress above the hill there can provide the best vantage point around Delhi in my opinion. Just that the weather gods should be kind on us and we should have a clear morning.

NOTE: To know the timings and visibility patterns of the eclipse in your city, download the software mentioned above (it is freeware) and install it. You just need to feed in the Longitude/latitude combination. The rest is all programmed.

Lets get together to watch the cosmos play out its games....

OF

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