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Longest Solar Eclipse of the 21st Century

India Prepares for the Longest Total Solar Eclipse of the 21st century Occurring on 22nd July 2009. It is just a few months away. The eclipse is passing across the entire breadth of India. The wide path of totality passes over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The eclipse passes through highly populated regions of India. Millions of citizens will watch the eclipse occurring in the sky over their cities. Apart from the wide path of totality the entire country will witness a partial eclipse in the morning hours of Wednesday, 22nd July. The significance of the eclipse is heightened as it is occurring in the International Year of Astronomy.

It’s a cliché, but true, this is the eclipse of a lifetime for Indians in their home country. It’s an opportunity that cannot be missed, the next Total Solar Eclipse occurs over India only on 20th March 2034! Although there is an eclipse scheduled to occur on 15th January 2010, it’s an Annular Solar Eclipse and is visible over southern part of India, around Kanya Kumari and Adam's Bridge.

To prepare for the eclipse, Eclipse Chasers Athenæum, the eclipse sphere of SPACE, is conducting ‘Solar Eclipse Workshop’ on 9th to 11th January, 2009 at New Delhi.

Eminent scientists, experienced eclipse chasers, eclipse planners from India and abroad are conducting sessions in the workshop. The sessions will deal with observing, photographing, planning, logistics and showing the eclipse to a large number of audiences in your organisation, school and city. The workshop is a must for everyone with eclipse on their minds, be it astronomers, adventurers, photographers.

The spectacular Eclipse of July 2009 belongs to the saros series no 136. The particular Saros series is a vigorous series presently in the prime of its life. The series began with a small partial eclipse visible off the coast of Antarctica on 14th June 1360. After seven more partial eclipses, each of increasing magnitude, the first umbral eclipse occurred on 8th September 1504. In the 20th century, Saros series 136 continued to produce exceptionally long total eclipses with tracks passing across the equator. The eclipse of 29th May 1919 May is particularly noteworthy because it was the first eclipse used to measure the gravitational deflection of starlight by the Sun as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. On 8th June 1937, the central line duration exceeded 7 min for the first time for any total eclipse since 1098 CE. The following eclipse of 20th June 1955 was 4 s longer with a maximum duration of 7 min 08 sec. Its track crossed Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines. This event marked the maximum duration of all total eclipses belonging to Saros 136. Subsequent members in the series are shorter as the Moon recedes farther from perigee. Nevertheless, Saros 136 will continue to produce long eclipses for some time to come. Eclipse chasers distinctly remember the last eclipse of this Saros series, total eclipse of 11th July 1991 with a duration of 6 min 53 sec and a path through Hawaii, Mexico, and Central and South America. The 2009 eclipse has a maximum duration of 6 min 39 sec although it occurs in the Pacific Ocean. The next eclipse in the series is on 2027 Aug 02 and lasts a maximum of 6 min 23 sec.


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