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Monday, January 11, 2010

'Ring of Fire' in the sky on Jan 15

Watch ‘Ring of Fire’ in the sky Jan 15

'Ring of Fire'
January 12 2010 : On Jan 15, people living in the southern tip of the country at Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu will get to watch the ’Ring of Fire’ when the moon will cover the sun’s disc during the millennium’s longest annular solar eclipse.

However, sky gazers in Delhi will also have something to cheer about as they will get to see more than half of the eclipse.

Annular solar eclipse occurs when the sun and the moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon’s shadow is smaller than that of the visible disc of the sun. The covered sun, therefore, appears as a ’Ring of Fire’, with its rays appearing spread out from the outline of the moon.

Last time India saw this ’Ring of Fire’ was Nov 22, 1965, and it will not be witnessed again before June 21, 2020.

The maximum duration of the eclipse would be 11 minutes 08 seconds over the Indian Ocean, thus making it the longest annular eclipse of the millennium.

"People in southern parts of the country, especially in Dhanushkodi near Rameshwaram, will be lucky to see the heavenly sight of ’Ring of Fire’. The eclipse will be best viewed at Dhanushkodi for a duration of 10 minutes and 13 seconds," said N. Rathnasree, director of Nehru Planetarium in New Delhi.

In India, the eclipse will start around 11 a.m. and end around 3:15 p.m. The eclipse will first be seen in south of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and then move obliquely to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. It will then move to Kerala and end in Mizoram in the northeast.

Delhi will see the partial phase of this solar eclipse. It will start at 11.53 a.m. and end at 15.11 p.m. The maximum eclipse of 53 percent will be at 13.39 p.m.

Nehru Planetarium and the Amateur Astronomers Association in Delhi are organising a public watch Jan 15.

"Arrangements will be made by the Amateur Astronomers Association and Nehru Planetarium for people to watch the celestial activity. We will put out telescopes for the event," said Rathnasree.

Rathnasree said people should not watch the eclipse with naked eyes, and advised them to take precautionary measures while watching the celestial activity.

The eclipse will be the longest of the millennium - that is between 2001 and 3000. People in most parts of India will witness the partial phases of the eclipse.

The annular eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a 300 km wide track that will traverse half of the Earth.

The path of the moon’s shadow begins in Africa at 10.44 a.m. and passes through Chad, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia. After leaving Africa, the path crosses the Indian Ocean.

The central path then continues into Asia through the extreme southern part of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path, including entire India, or Bangladesh.

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