THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “It looks like a banana now. It is happening fast. In no time it will turn into a ring of fire. It is amazing!” says an excited Basil Farraj, peering through the solar filter as the moon obscured the sun.“I can’t stop looking,” chipped Inbar Siboni who stood gazing at the sky, waiting for the solar eclipse to reach its zenith. The duo from Israel had arrived here from Varkala. Having known about the event, they zeroed in on the capital for watching the celestial spectacle. “The last time I watched an eclipse was when I was a kid. And here I am, 20 years later, watching it again. It is beautiful,” says Basil.
For the many astronomy enthusiasts who congregated at the Central Stadium on Thursday, the celestial event offered a rare sense of excitement. After nine years, the city was being a witness to the solar eclipse and excitement was at fever pitch as the young and the old trooped in to watch the visual extravaganza as sun, moon and earth lined up.
The Kerala State Science and Technology Museum had made elaborate arrangements including a range of safe viewing equipment such as solar filters, welding mask and pinhole cameras in addition to a telescopic projection. Serpentine queues could be seen to watch the magnified image of the eclipse. “We kept four telescopes along with solar filters and pinhole cameras for safe viewing. The whole idea is to mobilise the people and remove the misconceptions about the solar eclipse,” Sreeletha K, joint director, KSSTM.
Adults who assembled had some tales to narrate, mostly linked to their childhood. Education minister C Raveendranath reminisced about the first time he watched the solar eclipse. Speaking to Express, he said that his early remembrance was about watching the solar eclipse projection on cow dung water. “In those days we never had these solar filters. It was a great experience watching the eclipse projection on cow dung mixed water. You get to see it with great clarity,” said Raveendranath.
After a week of being down with a fever, V K Prasanth MLA got back to the public milieu on Thursday and chose to start the day by watching the solar eclipse. “I remember going to the Planetarium when I was small to watch the eclipse. Now things have changed and there is immense opportunity to watch the solar phenomenon,” says Prasanth, nodding at the young and old shuffling in at the Central Stadium to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. A range of scientific activities was also conducted with pinhole camera making session for students, the introduction of sundials along with setting up palm leaves which offered the eclipse projection onto a paper.