Darkness descended soon after dawn across large swathes of land along a narrow path stretching from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh as skywatchers experienced the longest total solar eclipse of the century this morning. The moon passed between the sun and the earth during a total solar eclipse in Varanasi. The dark shadow of the moon — the conical shaped umbra — made its landfall in Gujarat at 6:30 a.m. and raced across the country within a span of a few minutes spreading darkness in the path of totality. At many places a thick cloud cover dampened the spirits of skywatchers who had gathered to watch the celestial spectacle. With the sun blanked out for six minutes and 39 seconds, this was the longest total solar eclipse to occur in the 21st century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132. In Delhi, clouds played hide-and-seek but still astro-enthusiasts gathered at several places got a glimpse of the sun. Eighty-three% of the sun dial was obscured by the moon. The crescent sun smiled upon the capital when the eclipse reached its maximum of 83 per cent at 6:26 a.m.
May 18, 2009