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Today is the longest solar eclipse of the century !

American astronomer chasing his 50th solar eclipse

Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, January 13, 2010

He has not missed any major eclipse in five decades. Jay Pasachoff, a 66-year-old American astronomer, travels across the globe chasing the best views of solar eclipses. Sure enough, he is in India to capture on camera the annual solar eclipse on Friday - it will be his 50th.

"When I came to know that India is one of the best places to get a clear view of the 'Ring of Fire' during the eclipse, I chose it as my 50th destination for eclipse viewing," Pasachoff, a professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Massachusetts (US), told IANS here.

"I am really excited about it and will travel down south to get a clearer view of the eclipse." The astronomer travelled to Kanyakumari in south India on Wednesday to watch Friday's eclipse. In India, the eclipse will start around 11 am and end around 3.15 pm. The eclipse will first be seen in the south in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and then move to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. It will also pass through Mizoram in the northeast.

"I decided to go to Kanyakumari as it lies in the central line of the eclipse route and the 'Ring of Fire' will be visible quite clearly," he said.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the sun and the moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon's shadow is smaller than the visible disc of the sun. The covered sun, therefore, appears as a 'Ring of Fire', with its rays appearing spread out from the outline of the moon.

The last time India saw this Ring of Fire was on Nov 22, 1965, and it will not be witnessed again before June 21, 2020. The maximum duration of the eclipse will be 11 minutes, 8 seconds over the Indian Ocean, thus making it the longest annular eclipse of the millennium.

Pasachoff is carrying his three sophisticated cameras and telescopes to catch the clearest view of the eclipse.

"I will be taking some measurements and readings during the eclipse for research work," said the astronomer, who is chair of the Working Group on Eclipses of the International Astronomical Union.

Explaining his work in India, Pasachoff said: "I was in India during the 1980 and 1995 total solar eclipses. I travelled to Jaipur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and clicked some awesome pictures of the eclipse."

According to the astronomer, people should come out in large numbers and watch the eclipse with proper gear for this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be missed.
Ahmedabad prepares for year's first solar eclipse
Caroline Andrade & Misbah Nayeem Quadri / DNAThursday, January 14, 2010 11:05 IST

Ahmedabad: Various groups in the city are busy making last-minute preparations to welcome the first solar eclipse of the year, after the disappointment of the solar eclipse in July, 2009.

Inaugurating an orientation workshop on annular solar eclipse at
Science City, Ravi Saxena, principle secretary, department of science and technology, Gujarat government, said that scientists are now looking for new knowledge about the relationship between the sun, moon, earth and solar system. It would be a great opportunity to popularise science and to create interest in the basic science among the younger generation.

He added, "For the school and college students, the solar eclipse offers a unique opportunity to see a natural phenomenon that illustrates the basic principles of mathematics and science that are taught through elementary and secondary school. Indeed, many researchers, including amateur astronomers, have been inspired to study science as a result of seeing a total solar eclipse."

About 150 science communicators including BRC and CRC coordinators, science teachers, amateur astronomers and eclipse chaser students from various schools and colleges attended the orientation workshop.

In Ahmedabad, the partial eclipse will be visible between 11:25 hours and 15:05 hours with a maximum eclipse at 13:21 hours said a senior scientist at the Science City. "Individual groups from Delhi and Bangalore will also be visiting a place called Varakala, there on," said Manoj Pai of the Astronomy club, Ahmedabad.

Elaborative arrangements have been made at Science City to facilitate the safe viewing of the partial solar eclipse on the January 15, 2010. Telescopes fitted with appropriate solar filters, solar image projectors, pin-hole camera, and solar filter goggles, NASA eclipse lenticulars have been arranged to facilitate safe viewing of this celestial event among a large number of students and visitors. The programme will be open for public between 11 am to 3:30 pm.

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