I’ve finally decided my plan for Total Solar Eclipse of July 22, 2009 which is going to be visible across(well almost!!!) India. The eclipse, in India, starts from Surat in Gujarat but the Sun would be at ~2 degrees at totality. Also, recent weather conditions have revealed that the coastal regions in Gujarat have been under the wraps of monsoon rain lowering the chances of observing the eclipse. Well at least from Gujarat.
As you very well know, India will be having it’s monsoon around mid July lowering the possibility of visibility of eclipse across India. Now, I’m not reach enough to shell out INR 79,000 for a fancy flight across the path of totality. So, I had to stick to the ground and find for a good location to observe it.
As per Jay Anderson during a Workshop at New Delhi, based on last 20 yrs collective record, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) had the lowest cloud cover, followed by Surat, Gujarat. Also, the Sun would be at ~5 degrees at Indore, giving a little more advantage over Surat. While Surat is quite close to my city, I wanted a place that wouldn’t be too far(coz of my budget) yet not too close (due to Sun’s low altitude). After weighing my options, Indore turned out to be the best option for me(actually, I can tell you this only after eclipse is over :D :-s). So, we, a group of 18 consisting of me and other members of Big Bang Astronomy Club will be heading for Indore to observe The Longest Eclipse of Century.
Here are some details of totality conditions at Indore, based on Xavier Jubier’s (another speaker at the above said workshop) Google Map for TSE of July 22nd, 2009.
First Contact: The first contact is expected to occur at 00:00 UTC(05:30 IST) when Sun would be around ~5 degrees below horizon. Therefore, first contact won’t be visible at Indore.
Second Contact: The second contact is expected to occur at ~00:52 UTC(06:22 IST) when Sun would be around ~5 degrees above horizon. If we are lucky enough to not to have have clouds near horizon(which is highly unlikely because of ongoing Monsoon Season), second contact will be visible to us which also marks the start of ~3 min totality. During this phase one can observe Shadow Bands, a phenomenon still strange to our modern world. We are planning to observe and record them for Dr. Hari Om Vats’s Shadow Band Campaign.
Totality: The totality is expected to last for 03 minutes and 06 seconds. This phase is the most important phase of the eclipse. The Sun would be ~5 degrees above horizon. It will be the best time to observe & photograph Solar Corona.
Sky during Totality at Indore
Third Contact: After 3 beautiful minutes at 00:55 UTC(06:25 IST), when Sun would be at ~6 degrees, the totality will end with a beautiful diamond ring which again would be visible if there are no clouds. Shadow Bands can be observed during this phase.
Fourth Contact: At 01:52 UT (07:22 IST), fourth and final contact will mark the end of The Longest Eclipse of Century. The Sun would shine at ~18 degrees with no part covered by Moon.
There are other parameters like intensity of light, temperature, cloud cover etc that we are planning to observe and maintain a record of each of them during the eclipse. But, these are, as of now, just ideas. Can’t say until eclipse is over.
So, if you are observing this beautiful eclipse from anywhere, All The Best to you. Don’t forget to tell me how it went for you ;)
Eclipse Chasers Athenaeum
Bangalore Astronomy Society
Solar Eclipse Surat
Update: Here is my report on the journey to Indore.