Thousands gaze at sky for a solar eclipse view

August 1st, 2008 - 10:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) Excitement and curiosity filled the air as thousands, including children and adults, gazed at the sky to see the total solar eclipse. Sky gazers were in for a spectacular view as moon literally overshadowed sun for nearly two hours. The clouds, however, played the spoilsport briefly.

In India, the eclipse was visible partially while people in northern parts of the world, including Russia, China and Canada were able to view a total eclipse.

“It went off well. We could have a clear view of the solar eclipse for about 80 minutes and after that, around 5.20 p.m., clouds covered the sky hiding the sun,” Nehru Planetarium director N. Rathnahree told IANS.

In Delhi, the eclipse began at 4.03 p.m. and ended at 5.56 p.m. The eclipse was at its peak at 5.02 p.m. when the sun was eclipsed by about 62.4 percent in diameter.

“We had set many telescopes at the Nehru Planetarium for people to come and watch the celestial activity. We were expecting many people to come out and watch the solar eclipse but due to fear and superstitious beliefs, people decided to stay indoors,” Rathnashree said.

About 300 people and many voluntary organisations, including Amateur Astronomers Association, Science Popularisation Association of Communication and Educators (SPACE) and Astro Education Services, came to the Nehru Planetarium to see the eclipse.

“At Jantar Mantar, we used the Jaiprakas Instrument to watch the solar eclipse but the view was not that clear as sky was hazy,” Rathnashree added.

The astronomical phenomenon was particularly exciting for schoolchildren who thronged to the Nehru Planetarium and Jantar Mantar for a glimpse of the celestial activity.

“It was an amazing view. I had never seen solar eclipse ever before in my life and this was truly a great experience,” said Shivam Sabharwal, a Class 8 student of Amrita Public School.

“It appeared like a golden ring in the sky. It was beautiful when moon hid the sun completely,” said Saurabh Menani, another student.

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