News channels have started filling in the news about the brand new Solar Eclipse in town.

This eclipse occuring on July 22nd could have been the  “Great Indian Eclipse” – due to the long time of totality (longest in 21st century, with 6+ minutes of totality – although this may not happen in India), had it not occured in the month of July, and  at the specific time of the day  it occurs.

Solar Eclipse of 1999; Image from Wikipedia

Solar Eclipse of 1999; Image from Wikipedia

(Image taken from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_eclips_1999_4_NR.jpg )

It is monsoon season in India now, and the weather gods may not co-operate with skywatchers. And the eclipse occurs at sunrise, so the Sun is pretty low in the horizon when totality starts.

But whoever can catch it, be it in India, or China, would have their chance of their life time.

“This eclipse is a bad omen” – ” 3 eclipses in one month happened during Mahabharat war”, “The last time this eclipse occured was 360 years ago”, Not good for …. blah blah blah”…. – there is quite a lot of negative publicity in Indian media already.

How much of  this could be  truel? Hard to seperate wheat from the chaff.

I am surprised at how easy it is for the media to fool people. Again and Again they have done it. So predictably. Last year they reported  how rare it was to see two eclipses in a row. This year they might talk about how rare it is to see 3 eclipses in a row!

Here are some eclipse fun facts  (not in any specific order)

  • Eclipses repeat  in about every half-year (called eclipse seasons)
  • Each eclpse season lasts for about 40 days. If the Sun and the Moon are in the right places around the nodes (rahu & ketu) , and more importantly, if you are at the right location you might see an eclipse
  • There can be a maximum of 7 eclipses occuring in a calendar year, but that’s kind of rare
  • In each eclipse season – one, two or three eclipses can occur – 2 solar and one lunar, or 2 lunar and one solar
  • All eclipses in an eclipse season may not be visible from the same place on the earth, but it is not all that rare to see two eclipses in the same season at a place. For example, this seasons 3 eclipses can be seen from some parts of Indonesia. . (Two of the lunar eclipses in this season are penumbral, and so there is nothing to see, really – That’s another matter🙂 )

So if you get an e-mail telling how rare this eclipse triad occuring on July 7th, July 22nd and August 6th is – please hit delete, and do not forward it to anyone!

-neelanjana