India prepares to witness first Diwali partial solar eclipse since 1995

Mumbai (IANS) People in Maharashtra and rest of India, barring the northeastern states, are eagerly waiting to witness the first partial solar eclipse coming at the height of Diwali season after 1995, a top astronomer said here on Tuesday.

The eclipse will start at 4.39 p.m. in Mumbai and will go on till 6.08 p.m., with the timings varying in different parts of the state and the rest of the country, as the moon’s shadow straddles across the sun.

“For tradition-bound Indians, the significance is it is the first Diwali season partial solar eclipse after a gap of 27 years and it will be a rare partially covered sun that will set this evening,” well-known astronomer Prof. Bharat Adur, Director of Akash Ganga Centre for Astronomy, told IANS.

For India, another solar eclipse will happen only after another 10 years, in 2032, so, people must make it a point to watch this celestial spectacle indirectly and safely, cautioned the AGCA head.

However, Prof. Adur said another total solar eclipse will take place in 2024 in the US and an AGCA team will head there to study it in detail.

Tuesday’s magnificent sky show, when the moon will be positioned between the sun and Earth, will originate in the northern hemisphere in Europe, starting with Finland, but will not be a ‘diamond-ring total solar eclipse’, he said.

The longest duration of Tuesday’s spectacle will be in Jammu and Kashmir, two hours and six minutes, with 55.75 per cent sun covered, followed by Ladakh at around 55 per cent coverage, plus in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The eclipse duration will be shortest in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and barely a few minutes in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands as the sun sets, according to Prof. Adur.

A Bhopal-based astronomer, Alok Mandavgane, in collaboration with ASI-POEC, has prepared an app, “Solar Eclipse Alok”, which provides full details of today’s celestial phenomenon, for different cities, states of India.

Several scientific and astronomical organizations run by the government and private sector, plus amateur organisations are going to live-stream the eclipse on various social media, to enable people track it without any risks, said Mandavgane.

Mumbai’s Nehru Science Centre has also made arrangements for people to view the eclipse at its premises or on its Facebook page, said an official.

In Maharashtra, with clear early winter skies after the monsoon officially departed, the partial solar eclipse shall be visible best in places like Palghar, Thane, Nashik, Pune, Mumbai and other districts.

Prof. Adur, Mandavgane and other experts have appealed to people, especially children, not to view the partial solar eclipse directly as it can cause temporary or permanent vision problems.

Several major temples in India and Maharashtra have shut their doors for the day in view of the partial solar eclipse and people would be engaged in certain religious rituals connected with the phenomenon for the day.

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