Solar Eclipse – 22 July 2009

solar_eclipse_22_july_2009_taken_by_lutfar_rahman_nirjhar_from_bangladesh

When I was in Class 9, there was a total solar eclipse. I came to know of it when school reopened after the Summer Vacation. A few days later, it was in the newspapers. You must not watch it with your bare eyes. You must use special glasses, etc etc. My then Biology teacher, Ms Nina said, “If you watch the solar eclipse with your naked eyes, you’ll keep seeing that eclipse for the rest of your life.”

As mid-July approached, my Math teacher Mr Poincare announced his plans to go to a southern part of the country where the eclipse would be better visible. All this for an eclipse? At that point of time, the internet connection at home was a pathetic dial-up connection and the computer didn’t work when I needed it to. Thankfully, the newspapers contained what I wanted to know.

It would be a total solar eclipse and it would be the longest solar eclipse of the century. Now that was impressive. It would be an almost total eclipse where I lived but that wasn’t bad. The biggest hurdle was how to see it. Experts suggested that people should not use medical X-ray sheets to see it (as they usually do). This eclipse would be way too powerful. My friend, Alliser, came up with a good idea. He suggested we use the red film inside floppy disks and that is what we did.

On the day, I woke up at 02.00 AM UTC and went to the roof. Soon, I was joined by a couple who lived upstairs. I live in a society of some 30 apartment blocks. At most 5 people were up, someone in the next block, someone far away and the three of us. All of them had X-ray sheets. The couple had no idea what I was doing with my floppy disk. I’m sure that to this day, they think I am crazy. The eclipse was maximum at about 02.30 AM UTC. I clicked one or two photos. Of course, the eclipse was partial, so it was never very dark. I stayed for an hour before deciding my mother would reach her boiling point if I didn’t start getting ready for school.

The experience was, on the whole, extremely boring. In the past, I had often dreamt of becoming an astro-something. But now, I knew I had to look for something else. To this day, the space remains fascinating to me. But it’s limited to seeing TV shows about space, such as The Universe (on History Channel) and setting space wallpapers on my PC. Nothing more.

For more info on the eclipse click here.

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