Report: Total Solar Eclipse – July 22, 2009

I know I’m quite late to write my report for the forgotten TSE of July, 22, 2009 and honestly I had no interest to write anything after it turned out to be a total failure (!!! not eclipse :( ). But as a duty of a true observer, I’m going to (reluctantly) write a report for it.

The Location

We chose Indore as observation location regarding which I’ve already posted in my previous post.

The Team

Our team mainly comprised of members of Big Bang Astronomy Club, RCSC, Rajkot while a team of about 12 members from Dholakia School accompanied us to Indore.

Neelesh Rana

The mastermind of the whole trip and a respected sir. He manages Big Bang Astronomy Club while he serves as a Centre Co-ordinater to RCSC, Rajkot.

Mahant

That’s what we used to call him. I don’t remember his real name. He works at RCSC and he joined us to aid Neelesh Sir in conducting the experiments.

Deep Rajpara

An old friend of mine and an a great enthusiast. He is always ready for any expedition related astronomy.

Bhawmik

A funny and joyous guy from Ahmadabad who joined BBAC while his stay at Rajkot during his graduation years.

Dipen

A great science and astronomy enthusiast with lots of questions in his head. Since he was unable to bear the costs, his travel costs were funded by my dad.

Ravi Bhoot

A strange guy in himself. He joined us for this trip even though he had exam on 24th!!!!!! A pure potential of sheer dedication.

And Of course

You know me :D

Also we had the pleasure of having Shireen(one of the great friends of mine and an avid amateur astronomer) & Vishal (Shireen’s friend and an astronomy enthusiasts who is also member of Khagol Mandal), of Mumbai, as part of our team. The were going to join us at Indore on the morning of July 21, 2009.

The Objectives

Primary Objectives

  • Watching the Total Solar Eclipse (Highest Priority)
  • Take pictures and video of Total Solar Eclipse & ,if possible, it’s corona using DSC, Webcam and Camcorder.
  • Timing the Total Solar Eclipse.
  • Measuring & charting air & soil temperature during the total duration of eclipse.
  • Monitoring & charting light intensity using a custom made analog  device coupled to SkyPipe as well as using a modified webcam coupled to a custom made software(programmed by me).
  • Record spectrum of sunlight by using a diffraction grating and a camcorder.
  • Observe & record Shadow Bands(if seen).

Secondary Objectives

  • Monitoring behavioural changes to flora and fauna.
  • Monitoring clouds variations during the duration of eclipse.

The Trip

So, after preparing a lot, finally we embarked on the hopeful journey to see the longest eclipse of the century from a location was, we believed(or rather hoped), the best for us to watch – Indore. Yes, Indore, the beautiful City of Temples  as it is sometimes known. We started out on a local ST bus from Rajkot to Ahmadabad on the afternoon of July 20, 2009  as we had a train to catch for Indore from Kalupur Station, Ahmadabad. The bad things started to happen from Rajkot Bus Depot itself. Even though the morning was cloudy there was no sign of rain and, suddenly, heavy rain started to pour down as we were boarding the bus. The brief moment that we took, to leave the shelter of the depot and board the bus, was enough to drench us completely and when we settled into our seats, we were all wet.

As soon as the bus left Rajkot limits, the rain subsided and it remained that way for almost for the rest of the trip to Ahmadabad. We enquired about the rain condition at Ahmadabad but were relieved to know that there wasn’t  any rain. But as we were destined to have the company of rain for next two days, as soon as the bus drove into Ahmadabad, rain started to pour down heavily!!!! We hurriedly got down at the bus depot and got an auto for the Kalupur station. Once we reached there, we realized that we forgot our BBAC/RCSC banner in the bus itself and so now, it’s all gone.

While we waited for the train at Kalupur Station, the rain kept on pouring heavily as if it’s never going to stop. Later, we boarded the train and as soon as the train left Ahmadabad suburbs, the rain subsided again!!!. The train trip was mostly uneventful as we were almost tired of bus journey as well as cold weather and everybody retired to sleep quite early. Our arrival time at Indore was around 6 AM and so there wasn’t too much to worry. I woke up at around 4 AM, when Ujjain came, to have a look at the sky conditions. The Dholakia team got down at Ujjain as they  wanted to see Ujjain before coming to Indore. The sky was partly cloudy but there was no sign of rain. At 6:30 AM we arrived at Indore station and the first thing wanted to see was sky condition and guess what – it was overcast. After enquiring with locals near the station we got to know that the sky was almost clear for last whole f*****g week. But keeping the hopes high, we reached Gujarati Samaj that was going to be our home for next two days.

The Stay

The morning was quite dull due to overcast sky and cold weather (luckily we had hot water at Gujarati Samaj). So we decided to hang a bit around and get some things that were pending to be purchased & have some descent breakfast. But as soon as we got ready, rain started to pour down(not again) so heavily that the whole road near Gujarati Samaj was submerged under water. We stood, while waiting for the rain to stop, at the gate of Gujarat Samaj dumbstruck with wide open jaws cursing our luck. First the Dholakia Team came, as they were going to stay with us, and the students hurriedly got down from the autos and ran towards the shelter of the building. When they settled in the rooms, they realized that the students had forgotten their Sir’s 4” OTA in the auto itself and the auto guy was no where to be found. Another loss in two days. They went to Railway Station as well as Bus Depot to look for the auto but all efforts were in vain. Meanwhile Shireen & Vishal arrived, tired of an overnight trip in bus. As they were tired, they decided to take some rest. For the rest of the day there wasn’t too much rain and we hanged around the city. But the overcast sky added to de-moralizing situation. At night when we came back, we went off to sleep hoping for better conditions in the morning.

The Special Moment

But, (bad)luck wasn’t going to give up so easily. As soon as the clock ticked 4 AM, it started to rain heavily(why can’t it rain slowly???).  And as the time to totality closed upon us, we had no moral to even take the equipments to the terrace of the building. We gathered around a small TV set that was kept for the night duty manager to watch and envy the people from Bhopal & Varanasi who were damn lucky to be at the right place at the right time. We did go to terrace during totality(prepared to be drenched by rain) as the ambient light started to fade and at a moment, it was complete darkness. We were hardly able to see each other as the cloud cover added to the darkness. The only relief was that we were lucky enough to stand under the shadow of Moon as it east to complete the longest total solar eclipse of the century.

The Return Trip

After the successful failure of the TSE observation, it was time to get back, home. Our train was  at ~10 PM from Ujjain and we’d decided(to make the trip any worthy) that the time we have in our plate, we will use to hang around Ujjain and visit probably Mahakaleshwar Temple.  So as soon as the rain stopped (yes it stopped) at around 11 AM, we packed our bags and boarded the train for Ujjain. We reached Ujjain at around 2 PM and we were damn hungry. So after putting half of our luggage in the cloak(Clock room as per the board outside it) room (as they won’t let us keep our telescope and camera stands in the cloak room), we visited these descent looking hotel with really nice menu. And once we ordered the food and it was served, we realized that it was the worst food we ate in the whole trip. We hardly ate anything and we were planning to visit another restaurant that the rain started to pour heavily(yes….it was always heavy :( ). The moment the rain slowed down a little bit, we just ran to railway station so that we won’t get stuck in that rain. Once we were there, the rain again started to pour down heavily(Don’t say anything…..:|). And it remained the same way till we boarded, an hour late, train. We were stuck in railway station for 9 hours. So during the time we had at railway station, we enquired about rain in Rajkot and guess what there was no rain in Rajkot (remember the rain when we were at Bus Depot in Rajkot). Yeah, no rain. So we thought, thank god, atleast we’ll have a break from rain. But nope, God had different plans for us. When we reached Rajkot at 2 PM on July 24, 2009,(imitating in sarcastic voice) rain started pour down heavily. Even the auto guys were having their time charging 50 bucks for fare that would have been no more than 30 bucks. And finally we parted on the ways to our home not believing the fate our trip we had in last two days.

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Note: This is rough draft and I haven’t considered time to read it atleast once before publishing so please bear with w/e mistakes you could find.