For eclipse chasers, Bihar will be the hotspot on July 22. It would play host to an estimated two lakh scientists and tourists from India and abroad for a rare celestial spectacle — the total solar eclipse. It will take place with such magnificence again in India only in 2114.
What is significant is that 2009 has been christened as the ‘International Year of Astronomy’. “Bihar is lucky, as the heavenly spectacle will be clearly visible for three minutes 42 seconds in Patna, Jehanabad and Taregana (Masaurhi) and people can watch it from their rooftops,” said Sachin Bahmba of SPACE, a Delhi-based organisation working for popularization of space science, after visiting the locations.
The eclipse chasers have already started arriving in the State for preliminary work. During the eclipse, the sunrise would appear to be taking place twice in a day, with a spectacular ‘diamond ring’ adding to the heavenly jamboree.
“It is an extraordinary phenomenon, which will attract astronomers from around the globe to Bihar,” is how a team of eclipse chasers from USA, UK and France put it after visiting Taregana. The team comprised Sheridan Williams, Xavier Jubier and Rick Brown, besides solar-physicists from SPACE, Ajay Talwar and Vikrant Narang and ISRO scientific officer Satyendra Bhandari.
The eclipse will start at 5.30 am and continue for two hours. It crosses over to central India, and passes between Nepal and Bangladesh, clips Bhutan and Myanmar, and then enters China. There will be total eclipse for 3’42” along a strip of 200 km in India, which will start from Surat and pass through Indore, Benaras and Patna.
“There are too many myths associated with eclipse, but there is nothing to worry about. The only precaution that needs to be taken is not to watch the eclipse with naked eyes. Specially designed goggles should be used to savour the spectacle. We are arranging for goggles at Rs 10-20. We will also distribute it free in government schools,” said Bhamba, who returned with his team after visiting the locations on Tuesday.
The scientists held talks with the district magistrates of the respective districts and director of planetarium, Amitabh Ghosh regarding the preparation for the eclipse. “From all parameters, Patna provides the best option and we will soon showcase the State on our website. People travel thousands of kilometres and spend millions of dollars to watch the eclipse,” he added.