Scientists hope for a clear sky on solar eclipse

July 31st, 2008 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Sky gazers are looking forward to watching the partial solar eclipse Friday even as scientists fear the weather may play spoilsport. “The southern parts of the country will see between 20-40 percent of the diameter of the sun eclipsed, while the northern parts of the country will see between 40-70 percent of the diameter of the sun eclipsed,” N. Rathnashree, Nehru Planetarium director, told IANS Thursday.

In Delhi, the eclipse begins at 4.03 p.m. and ends at 5.56 p.m. The eclipse peaks at 5:02 p.m. when the sun is eclipsed by about 62.4 percent in diameter.

“If the cloud cover clears between 4-6 p.m., Delhi is set to see quite a large fraction of the disk of the sun covered by the moon, during this eclipse,” Rathnashree said.

“We have been keeping an eye on the weather forecasts. Following the rainfall today (Thursday) chances are there for a cloudy sky Friday,” Rathnashree said.

Indians will be the last to see the eclipse end at 6:08 p.m. when the moon’s shadow finally leaves the earth at sunset near a point in the Bay of Bengal close to Andaman Nicobar Island.

“The eastern parts of the country will have the advantage to watch the eclipse close to sunset,” scientists at the ministry of earth sciences said.

Nehru Planetarium, in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi, Science Popularisation Association of Communication and Educators (SPACE) and Astro Education Services, will be conducting a public skywatch for the eclipse from Jantar Mantar, the Planetarium and India Gate area.

The solar eclipse timings in other metro cities: In Mumbai, it starts 4.27 p.m. and ends at 6.03 p.m., Kolkata - starts 4.18 p.m. and ends at 6.02 p.m. and Chennai, it starts at 4.40 p.m. and ends at 6.07 p.m.

The eclipse will be first seen in the world at 1:34 p.m. when the shadow of the moon first touches the earth near a point in the North Atlantic Ocean close to New Foundland in Canada.

The total eclipse of 150 seconds will be seen in various nations, including Canada, Russia and China, but all of India will witness a part of the eclipse as the country lies in its partial belt.

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