Solar eclipse begins over Karnataka under ‘cloudy sky’

Bengaluru, Dec 26: Solar eclipse began over Karnataka with the moon covering the sun gradually though a cloudy sky blocked its clear visibility in Bengaluru, an official said on Thursday.

“Solar eclipse began at 8.06 a.m. over the state and will last for around 3 hours till 11.11 a.m. It is clearly visible in the coastal and northern areas of the state, while a cloudy sky is hiding the celestial event in Bengaluru and southern region,” state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium Director Pramod Galgali told reporters here.

Hundreds of sky gazers, astronomers, astro-physicists, astrologers and students assembled at the Planetarium and Lalbagh garden in this tech hub to witness the celestial event and had to wait for the cloudy weather to clear for viewing the partial eclipse in progress.

“As Bengaluru is over 3,000 feet from the sea level, the sky over it is generally cloudy and foggy in the morning hours of winter. The eclipse will be visible as the clouds make way for clear view of the sky,” said Galgali.

The partial eclipse was clearly visible at Mangaluru, Belagavi, Karwar and along the state’s coastline on the west, while clouds played hide and seek in central and southern regions of the state.

The planetarium has made arrangements for safe viewing of the celestial spectacle as the new moon passed between earth and sun, causing a “ring of fire”.

“The solar eclipse over Bengaluru is partial, as the moon is seen covering the sun disc about 90 per cent,” said Galgali.

When moon is on the same path between earth and sun, it will cover the centre of sun, resulting in a ring of fire formation.

The planetarium has installed 5 telescopes to project the sun’s image on to a screen for viewers to track the path of the eclipse.

“Image of the sun produced by a telescope fitted with a special filter known as HI filter is displayed on an LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor,” said Galgali.

Viewers, however, were warned against watching the sun’s disc with naked eye wholly or partially, as its sharp rays may damage the organ.

A poster on the fundamentals of solar eclipse has also been put on display to educate the public on the natural phenomenon.

Owing to space constraints in the open area of the planetarium in the city centre, the number of visitors was restricted, with preference to students.

“Rural folks at Kutta, a tiny village in Kodagu district in the southern state, were able to witness the solar spectacle 99-100 per cent, as it is located in an ideal setting at 12.94 degree latitude and 77.61 degree longitude.

“Hordes of astronomers, astro-physicists, students and astrologers have descended on Kutta to study the solar eclipse in Kayamani area of the village as it is located at the right spot for clear visibility,” a district official told IANS.

The districts’ Vijnana Parishat (Science Club) has arranged special glasses for students to view the eclipse in an open ground.

In a related development, all Hindu temples across the southern state have remained closed for devotees, as the eclipse is considered inauspicious for offering prayers or performing rituals till noon.

“The temple will be re-opened after 12 noon as per the revised timing due to solar eclipse,” said a head priest of Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple at Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district, about 310 km southwest of Bengaluru.

The eclipse also delayed the second day of the Ranji Trophy tie between Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh at Mysuru, about 150 km southwest of Bengaluru.

“Match referee P. Ranganath has rescheduled the resumption of play on the second day from 9.30 a.m. to 11.15 a.m. after the eclipse ends,” a Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) official told IANS.