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Will weather overshadow the longest solar eclipse?

July 22, 2009 01:20 IST
Millions of stargazers across India are waiting with baited breath, hoping heavy cloud and rain will not play spoilsport when the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century --an event described as a once-in-a-life time opportunity--can be seen today.

Excited scientists and researchers including from abroad prepared to conduct experiments in several institutions when the solar eclipse races across the country.

The celestial spectacle which, due to its trajectory over China and India, could end up being the most watched eclipse in history and will be of three to six-minute durations in the cities where the shadow of the eclipse passes.

The epicentre of activities will be in Taregna, 30 kms south of Patna, which has been adjudged as the best spot to view the eclipse and thousands of tourists have flocked to this non-descript township to experience the phenomenon.

Taregna was visited by ancient astronomer Aryabhatta who set up a camp to study movement of stars in the fifth century. But a Maoist bandh call in Bihar have put authorities in tenterhooks and threatened to dampen the spirits of the star gazers.

Taregna is the worst Naxal affected place in Patna district. The eclipse will be first seen in Surat at sunrise in south Gujarat, where rains have been forecast.

Weathermen have also forecast cloudy skies in several parts of the country. The Indian cities through which the shadow of total eclipse passes are Surat, Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal, Sagar, Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gaya, Patna, Bhagalpur, Jalpaigudi, Guwahati and Dibrugarh.

The eclipse will be also visible in New Delhi, but it will not be total.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is caught between the sun and the earth while each of them moves along their fixed orbits.

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