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Tuesday, 21 July 2009
PATNA: More than a thousand years after astronomer Aryabhatta (or Aryabhatha, 476-550 AD) set up a camp to study movement of stars, all roads
lead to the same Taregna village this year to witness the total solar eclipse, the longest in the 21st century, on Wednesday.
'Taregna', the name of the village about 30 kms south of Bihar capital Patna, has a startling phonetic similarity with 'tare ginna', the Hindi equivalent of 'counting of stars'.
The village, adjudged the best place to view the celestial phenomena by the NASA, was expected to host about two lakh scientists, researchers and 'astro-tourists' from across the globe to witness the eclipse.
The duration of the eclipse in Taregna will be 3 minutes 48 seconds. However, the maximum duration of the eclipse would be six minutes 38 seconds, as visible from the Pacific Ocean.
Divisional Commissioner Sunil Barthwal said the state government would provide the visitors with all facilities.
The scientists said they would be studying atmospheric ionization, geomagnetism, asteroids, animals and avian behavioural changes as well as impact on micro-organisms during, before and after the eclipse.
The scientists were also expected to discover asteroids, which existed only in the world of hypothesis, they said.
Most of the rooms in the hotels in Patna have been booked in advance by the scientists, researchers and tourists. Teams of experts from Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), a Delhi based NGO, and NASA, are also reaching here, officials said.
The Patna planetarium is receiving heavy rush for buying special spectacles at Rs 20 per piece as people don't want to miss the opportunity, sources said.
Tour operators have made special arrangements to cash in on this occasion and have already received a overwhelming response.
Cox and Kings, the reputed travel agency, has claimed that a group of both amateur astronomers and others have booked a Boeing-737 for the two-hour journey from Delhi to Gaya in Bihar, specially to watch the solar eclipse which will begin at 5.30 am and last for about two hours.
But there is also a cloud of uncertainty. Scientists were concerned about the visibility of the cosmic event as it is monsoon and whether the horizon would be cloud free during the time of the eclipse, just after sunrise, in Indian locations like Taregna.
According to legends, Taregna had a camp set up by Aryabhatta to watch the celestial bodies. He was probably in Patliputra when he wrote 'Aryabhatiya', his lone work to survive, containing his theories on mathematics and astronomy. The first Indian satellite, launched on April 19, 1975, from erstwhile Soviet Union, was named after the great astronomer.
Source : ET