Watching a solar eclipse is unique experience. Many of us have seen solar eclipses of October 1995 and August 1999. This time we knew the rain will play spoilsport and were prepared mentally to get disappointed but at the same time enthused to feel the solar eclipse.
A crowd of around 200+ people just like us was eager to watch the theatrix of sun and Moon from Dondaicha Village in Dhule district. Our volunteers had visited Nandurbar, Dhule, region to locate suitable place for our group to watch eclipse. We carried out pilot trips and awareness programmes in the region, which aroused curiosity of the locals.
We arrived at dondaichya on the morning of 21st July 09. No sign of sun on that day. Lot of haze and mini showers in between. That evening we had small presentation session. People shared their past experience of total solar eclipse with others. We had custom built model to view the artificial Total solar eclipse. Every one enjoyed the model and expected to see the eclipse in ral. It was expecting for kind of miracle. Dreaming clouds drifting away and raising clouds curtain for celestial drama.
22nd July 2009 : We woke up early at 3:30 am. It was raining out side. each raindrop was laughing at us indicating that we had remote chance. All of us gathered to witness this rare celestial drama from railway crossover bridge near dondaichya railway station. Clock was ticking. Sunrise at dondaichya was at 6:01 am and totality was going to be at 6:21.17 am. People were excited. Every one was facing the east but no one was sure about location of Sun. We told people to keep eye on the light intensity in sky. Photographers were ready to capture glimpse of totality. We were anticipating for clouds curtain should diminish for five minute. But weather does not act on human wish.
I started video shooting around 6:19 am based on un calibrated clock with IST. First minute there was gradual drop of light intensity. Since sun was covered 98% during sunrise. Moon shadow was marching fast on earth. During second minute rate of light diminishing was little bit higher. last 30 seconds before totality light drops drastically and every one was shouting with excitement. After few seconds of shouting there was haunting silence. Bird’s calls replaced with crickets singing. The Darkness we were experiencing was different than what we would experience during night. You must experience it to believe it.
We were unable to clock the timing of third contact due to clouds. Darkness remained more than 3 minute and few seconds. I was comparing the darkness with 11th August 1999 & 24th October 1995. It was much darker than earlier encounter with Total Solar Eclipse (TSE). Might be clouds garnishing and missing majestic, mesmerizing coronal cool sparkling light were enhancing darkness. Moon was unable to block sun’s bright light more than few minutes. Moon shadow marched few steps ahead and sun lights started dominating the horizon once again. Battle of shadow was over at least for few years. This is the only battle which gives us pure joy and life time experience. Since 24th October 1995 for me, Total Solar Eclipse is kind of addiction. It will be addiction to those who encounter it. I don’t want to miss any Total Solar Eclipse in future. I will try to visit places where it will visible. It’s requires time, money, and careful planning to witness such celestial drama.