Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

There was excitement and expectation
in the air when I switched on the TV early
in the morning.

Our sky was littered with clouds

And Idon 't possess the right
equipment to take sophisticated pictures

I just took potshots at the celestial tent.

The sky darkened for about 2 minutes.
It was a momentous occasion.
It was as if nature was taking a deep breath.

Everybody was elucidating the eclipse on TV
We watched the images and
live reports.

I have posted 2 videos here and news reports.

The first one is from a village in Bihar

This is how people watched the

eclipse from a charted airplane

Cloudy skies in large parts of northern and western India on Wednesday marred a clear view of the century's longest total solar eclipse but the celestial spectacle was clearly visible over Varanasi.
Tens of thousands of people across the country rose early to see the eclipse that was to begin at the earliest at 5:29 am and end at 7:41 am in India.

It was to have been clearly visible in places like Surat, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi, Patna, Taregna near Patna, Daman, Darjeeling, Dibrugarh, Gangtok, Gaya, Itanagar, Ujjain and Vadodra.

A partial eclipse was to have been visible in many other towns and cities.
A total eclipse occurred when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely obscuring the sun. During the eclipse, totality is visible only from a narrow track on the surface of the earth.
( courtesy IBN7 LIve)

Report from Varanasi ( 3 hours from my city)
This morning, an ethereal blue-grey darkness descended on this eternal city of light. To the east across the Ganga, it was like God’s own eye flashing in the sky above, giving pilgrims, bathers and eclipse-watchers in the jam-packed ghats sights they are unlikely to forget in their lifetimes. While clouds blotted out the view in most other places in India, the century’s most spectacular total eclipse of the Sun was witnessed in full glory in holy Benaras. Also Read: Clouds spoil show in Targena It was a sight to behold. The eclipse displayed all the classical phases associated with the event. Seconds before the Sun was fully blocked by the lunar disc, a brilliant ‘diamond ring’ formed in the sky. Moments later, brightness dropped dramatically as totality began, a phase technically called second contact that began at 10 seconds past 6.24am . A roar went up at the ghats as people gasped and screamed in awe. Some stared in stunned silence while others shook hands with total strangers in fits of joy. The city was suddenly clothed in a surreal glow of faint light that was eerie, exhilarating and nothing like most had ever seen before. Up in the sky, a soft white halo formed around the black ball of the lunar disc. This was the Sun’s atmosphere, called corona (meaning a crown), that’s visible from Earth only during a total eclipse. The sight is often called God’s eye, and in Benaras on Wednesday, it appeared just that – a giant eye in the sky with a black ‘eyeball’ and a white ‘cornea’. Spots of light, called Baily’s beads, appeared around the edges of the Moon’s disc and in photographs clicked by lensmen, rarely-seen solar prominences were clearly visible. These are huge masses of fiery matter that get spewed from the Sun’s surface and are pulled back in by its gravity. At the same, planets like Venus and Jupiter came back on, shining brightly in the sky under totality. Birds around the ghats flew in random circles, confused and dazed by the sudden darkness hours after dawn. "I have waited 15 years to watch this stunning show," said Ravinder Singh, who had come from Patiala, where he teaches astronomy at the Punjabi University. "What a spectacle we have had. I’m privileged to have watched this peculiar view of nature." Other watchers, many of them gathered here from places across the globe, were just as awe-struck. "Wooooow," exclaimed Anindya, who is part of an amateur astronomer’s association in Delhi, when asked for a reaction. Mayank, another member of the group, asked back, "You want words?" Then, just after the total phase ended at 6.27am, another bright diamond ring dazzled in the sky, this one more mesmerizing than the previous. Then began the slow march of the Moon away from the Sun’s path, as thousands of dazed watchers tried to come to terms with the breathtaking show they had just witnessed. The fact that such a spectacle would not visit India in another 105 years just added to the momentousness of the occasion. Yet, at the beginning of the eclipse, it looked as if monsoon clouds would spoil the day for everyone. While the skies were clear at dawn, thick patches of clouds drifting in with the stiff breeze, blotting out the Sun just when the eclipse began. But the breeze soon blew away the obstacles, and by the time totality arrived, the clouds were incidental to the show. Meanwhile, the devout had been streaming into Varanasi’s ghats much before sunrise for the ritual dip in the river during the eclipse. Many of them chanted ‘Sita Ram, Sita Ram,’ as they made their way through the sea of humanity for the purifying Ganga bath to cleanse themselves of the ill-effects of the ‘grahan’. The ranks of bathers swelled as the eclipse progressed. By the time celestial normality was restored, around 7.27am, bathers were still coming in droves. Most residents of the city, fasted during the eclipse period in keeping with tradition.

Psalm 19
1The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

12 Fertilize my soul:

Sita said...

Psalm 19 says it all...thank you...

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

Wow, Amrita, how exciting to be there during the eclipse! I like the "potshots" you took of the sky! I just love how you express yourself, so charming always!

Technonana said...

What a great report... so glad you got to see this... and I LOVE your 'take' on this!!
Our Amazing God!!!

Crown of Beauty said...

What a beautiful post, Amrita. Thank you for trying to cover all angles, photos from your end, the news on video, the chartered flight, the well written news item on the eclipse, and to cap it all, the Psalm 19 passage.

It was a touching account, and I must have to thank you for taking the time to do it.

God be glorified, He holds the times and the seasons of our universe in His hands. He is the Creator, He understands what it all means.


Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
Thank you for being a live reporter.
Aussum, I think is the right word.
So great to have the world event brought to me by my blog-fiend.
From Felisol

Saija said...

we watched the news on the eclipse ... and i thought of you! :o)

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,
A second show on your blog. i saw the eclipse on NDTV even as I woke to go to the Science Centre here in Bhopal where I am at the moment. Finally the wet sky had played spoil sport :((( And I got a head ache for waking up too early to be at the Science Centre.

Amrita said...

I have witnessed several eclipses before and each time its been a tremendous experience. Its seems everythign stands on tip toe.

Julia you must have had a partial view from Bhopla.

Shelley said...

Hi Amrita,thanks for sharing this with us....such things as this bring us much closer in spirit to our wonderous Father God..
Just one of his marvelous mysteries....


LisaShaw said...

WOW! thanks for sharing all of this with us from India.

I'm praying for you now...

Blessings dear sister.

ChrisB said...

It must have been wonderful to see, I remember seeing an eclipse back in the 50's.

Ash said...

Lovely post Amrita!