They’ve got their eclipse tickets | india | Hindustan Times
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They’ve got their eclipse tickets

Special flight has already sold a lot of tickets. Seven enthusiasts who have shelled out big money for these seats with a view can’t wait to get on board. Satyen Mohapatra reports. See Graphic

india Updated: Jul 11, 2009 00:48 IST
Satyen Mohapatra

"I’ve seen a total solar eclipse from ice, land and water but never from the sky. The view of the corona (wispy emission seen around the disc of the sun during an eclipse) will be fantastic,” said Mumbai industrialist Deepak V. Bhimani, 70.

An intrepid traveler, he is among 29 others to have booked one of the 42 window seats on Jetlite’s special Eclipse Flight from Delhi to 35 km south of Patna and back on July 22.

Bhimani booked a sunside seat for Rs 80,000. A earthside seat costs Rs 30,000.

“I will take a digicam to shoot the eclipse. When I went to Antarctica to see the total solar eclipse (on November 3, 2003) I was able to take only 5-6 shots as the battery did not work long in the cold. The Japanese were prepared. They pitched small tents not just for themselves but to keep their cameras from freezing,” Bhimani said.

Four directors of a Mumbai-based firm — man, woman, son and daughter-in-law — are taking the flight as a “good family outing”. Pooja Pandhe, 28, the daughter-in-law, told HT, “We had already fixed our five-day itinerary for Japan. The three-hour flight from Delhi seems to be the most comfortable option for us as we’ll be back in office the next day.”

German engineer and amateur astronomer Christian Wolter, 51, said on phone, “A total eclipse is a fundamental experience you’ll never forget — when day turns to night for minutes and stars appear.” He dropped his plan to fly over Shanghai when he learnt Jetlite would be chasing the eclipse.

Ajay Talwar, 44, from Delhi-based NGO Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators, who gave Jetlite the idea of the flight, said: “The view should be grand. With the moon’s shadow moving at more than 19,000 km per hour and the plane flying at about 850 km per hour, the aircraft and the centre of the shadow have to meet at the precise second for us to be able to experience total eclipse,” he said.

Delhi schoolgirl Shreya Srivastava, 11, said, “Flying at 41,000 feet and seeing the eclipse right in front... and I get to shoot it – that’s really cool.”

Her mother Saloni Srivastava, 40, said, “I will be sitting on the earthside, watching Jupiter appear on the horizon and the shadow of the moon as it moves and covers the earth.”

US-based Indian astronomer Sanath Kumar, 35, said, “I find it fascinating to note the change in India from the 1990s, when streets used to be deserted during a solar eclipse and people were afraid to stir out. Today, people are ready to pay huge amounts to view it. Ten years ago, if I had told my grandma I was going to fly to see an eclipse, she would have slapped me.”