It’s not easy to capture the Sun: A report from India’s highest observatory ahead of October 25 Solar Eclipse

It’s not easy to capture the Sun: A report from India’s highest observatory ahead of October 25 Solar Eclipse

A report from India’s highest observatory ahead of the October 25 Solar Eclipse stated that it is not easy to capture the Sun.

By Sibu Tripathi: A Partial Solar Eclipse, when the Sun, Moon and Earth fall into alignment, although not perfectly, will begin at 4:20 pm today. Hours before that moment, a team at the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Ladakh’s Hanle is gearing up to capture the event as and when it happens.

A Partial Solar Eclipse takes place when the Sun, Moon and Earth are almost in the same line. The Moon partially blocks out the Sun’s light making it seem as though it has taken a bite out of the star.

The team at the observatory in Hanle has been making arrangements to capture the October 25 Partial Solar Eclipse, with the coordination being led by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru. The challenge is to capture the full disk of the Sun as the eclipse reaches its maximum intensity.

The IIA team is aiming to live stream the eclipse from Kazakhstan, Russia, Leh, and Hanle. Two teams have been placed in Ladakh, one over the Leh Palace and the other at Hanle to capture the full extent of the eclipse.

Hanle is in focus since the government is also working to launch Dark Sky Reserve, a unique initiative to boost astro tourism and strengthen the local economy.

In Hanle, Dorje Angchuk, the head of the Indian Astronomical Observatory, is spearheading the efforts to capture the solar eclipse. A set of four telescopes have been placed at an elevation of 4500 meters above sea level, higher than the observatory itself. “We will be livestreaming the partial solar eclipse and school children are also coming in to view it live from the observatory,” Dorje said.

A major issue remains the bandwidth as Hanle and even several parts of Leh are still to get the full force of the 4G network. While the team has sorted out the issue of bandwidth, they are keeping backup plans in case network services face glitches.

Another big problem is the high speed of wind close to the observatory at about 5 meters per second alongside high UV radiation from the sun due to the elevation that results in low oxygen levels. The team has been working round the clock despite the challenges to capture the full extent of the celestial event that will next be seen over India only in 2032.

The Changthang plateau in itself brings its own problem as the sun will go down earlier than expected, setting behind the mountains. The temperatures are expected to be between 3 to -11 degrees Celsius.

The Partial Solar Eclipse will begin at 4:20 pm and will be seen in several parts of India till about 5:20 for just over an hour.

It will be visible in the western and central parts of India for a few minutes to one hour before sunset. In the extreme western cities, like Porbandar, Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Silvasa, Surat, and Panaji, the eclipse will last for more than an hour.

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