Hyderabad, Dec 26 : There was excitement in the air as families thronged Birla Science Planetarium and parks here on Thursday to watch the solar eclipse, the last of the decade.
Wearing solar filters, men, women and children watched the partial eclipse, which began around 8.08 a.m. and lasted for little over three hours.
The sky watchers thronged Birla Planetarium in the heart of the city and Indira Park, where Planetary Society of India had made special arrangements for the enthusiasts to watch the celestial event.
Initially the clouds marred the visibility, disappointing a large number of people who had gathered at different places to watch the eclipse. Later the clouds cleared, providing a clear view of the partial eclipse.
Dr B.G. Siddharth, director, Birla Planetarium, joined the visitors to watch the eclipse. He advised people to take all precautions. “Watching the eclipse with a naked eye is harmful. The ultraviolet radiation can damage the retina,” he said advising the sky watchers to use solar filters and other safe equipment.
Annual solar eclipse happens when the moon covers the sun’s centre, leaving the sun’s visible outer edges to form a ‘ring of fire’ or annulus around the moon.
The solar eclipse coincided with the 15th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami that killed 230,000 people along the coast of the Indian Ocean.
The experts at Birla Planetarium, however, said it was a mere coincidence and that they did not anticipate any such extreme weather event.
The planetarium organised a special show about the solar eclipse at the observatory including how an eclipse occurs.
Young students were thrilled to watch the eclipse. “It is really exciting to see the eclipse,” exclaimed R. Aditya, a class six student at a city school.
Planetary Society of India also organised a programme at Indira Park to enable people to watch the solar eclipse through solar filters and telescope. The society officials explained how the celestial event happens.
Jana Vignana Vedika, a NGO working to build scientific temper among people, along with students’ union of Osmania University organised a programme titled ‘breakfast over eclipse’ to bust the myths and superstitions about the eclipse. People associated with the NGO and invitees had breakfast on the campus of Osmania University.
“We want to tell people that eating during the eclipse will have no harmful effect on food. It is just a superstition that eclipse poisons your food,” said Jana Vignana Vedika activist Ramesh.
He along with other activists also offered ‘puja’ to counter the superstition that there should be no worship during the eclipse and that the temples should be closed.
He said there was a need to remove other superstitions that the eclipse harms pregnant women or brings bad luck.