‘A night darker than the darkest nights’: Experiences of an eclipse chaser

On February 16, 1980, India witnessed the first whole photo voltaic eclipse of the century and this created a fantastic buzz amongst scientists and skygazers. As a younger pupil, Arvind Paranjpye, now Director of Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai, alongside along with his mates had got down to seize the occasion. “We went to a small village named Shiggaon, located close to the Maharashtra-Karnataka border. Carrying our devices as much as a small hill, we tried to seize the eclipse utilizing polaroid gentle. We arrange a small momentary darkroom and developed the film there.”

He has been an eclipse chaser since then and has seen 4 different whole photo voltaic eclipses – India (1995), Iran (1999), Zambia (2001), and the US (2017). He says every eclipse has its unique allure.

On December 4, a complete photo voltaic eclipse will probably be seen from Antarctica however Paranjpe will sadly miss the occasion.

The southern tip of South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand also can see partial phases of the eclipse. It won’t be seen from India.

When requested what his favorite second whereas seeing an eclipse was, he says: “Just earlier than the eclipse you see the shadow of the moon coming in direction of you at a excessive pace. If you’re on a mountain, you possibly can see from the distant horizon on the west, the shadow approaching you in simply 4 to 5 seconds. This is an attention-grabbing sight however can creep you out.”

“Though I travelled to China in 2009 to witness the whole photo voltaic eclipse, the space was fully lined by clouds and I skilled a night darker than the darkest nights and was left with a spooky feeling.”

He provides that one other lovely phenomenon referred to as shadow bands or wavy strains of shifting gentle and darkish could be seen earlier than and after a complete photo voltaic eclipse. “I feel the fable related to snakes and photo voltaic eclipses will need to have originated after folks noticed shadows shifting like snakes and engulfing them,” he chuckles.

For astrophysicists, photo voltaic eclipses present a uncommon probability to review the photo voltaic corona or the outermost half of the Sun’s ambiance. “There are nonetheless many unanswered questions about the photo voltaic corona. Why does it have such a excessive temperature of over 5500 levels Celsius? Most researchers research the Sun’s corona in numerous wavelengths throughout an eclipse.”

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