Clouds cover up total eclipse of the moon

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June 17 (NDTV) GUWAHATI: All summer, the city’s residents have been praying for rainclouds to gather on the horizon and bring forth rain. Who would’ve thought that on Wednesday night the same people would be cursing the skies for getting the timing wrong.

Around midnight on Wednesday, more than a hundred skygazers gathered at Guwahati Planetarium to get as up, close and personal as possible with the much-hyped darkest lunar eclipse of the century, but they were left sorely disappointed. The scheduled time for the total eclipse, when the moon was totally covered by the earth’s shadow, was 12.53am, but minutes before, at about 12.50am, monsoon clouds blanketed the sky, blocking out the rare sight.

The Pragjyotish Amateur Astronomers Association had made arrangements for interested people to view the eclipse. Two high-powered telescopes, along with a projector, were installed on the planetarium campus, which had kept its doors open even at midnight.

Needless to say, the stargazing enthusiasts, who had gathered at the planetarium despite the late hour to see the eclipse, had to go back home heartbroken. Many of them consoled themselves by saying at least they got a chance to view the partial eclipse through the telescope. “I stay at Zoo Road, which is quite far from the planetarium, but when I heard that one could view this rare celestial event from the planetarium, I just had to come here. We couldn’t watch the total eclipse because of the cloud cover, but viewed the partial eclipse through the telescope. It was the most amazing experience for me and my friends here,” said Panchal and his gang.

Noted singer Dwipen Baruah, too, stayed up well past his bedtime to watch the eclipse at the planetarium with his family.

“When I was a child, my parents used to ask us not to view any eclipses as they were supposed to have an adverse effect on health. But the times have changed and science has broken all such myths. So, I and my family decided to come here and have a close view of this extraordinary occurrence. It’s amazing that we can’t see the moon on a full-moon night. It’s lovely! I feel like singing!” said the singer.

Meanwhile, the organizers were jubilant at the huge turnout even at midnight, and said the people of the state have finally started discarding their superstitions.

“The response was tremendous. We have even heard that in many towns like Dibrugarh, Bongaigaon and Tinsukia large numbers of people came out of their houses to see the darkest night of the century. The eclipse was a treat for the eyes and anyone who missed it is not going to get the chance to view it again in his or her lifetime. The next such eclipse will happen after 130 years,” said U N Deka, noted astronomer and secretary of the Pragjyotish Amateur Astronomers Association.

The total lunar eclipse began at 00:52:30 IST and ended at 02:32:42 IST, while the partial eclipse began at 23:52:56 IST and ended at 03:32:15 IST. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth, in the course of its orbit around the sun, comes between the moon and sun in such a way that moon is hidden in the shadow cast by the earth.

Posted by on Friday, June 17th, 2011. Filed under Cities, Guwahati. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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