This New Year’s Eve as the world will bid adieu to the noughties, amateur astronomers in Mumbai will be looking skywards. At the stroke of midnight on December 31, Mumbaikars will be able to get a glimpse of this year’s last partial eclipse.
Amateur astronomer and photographer, Satish Shirodkar, will give the New Year’s party a skip to shoot the eclipse as it happens. It isn’t the first time Shirodkar will be ready with his camera at a remote farm in Vangani, near Kalyan. “I often turn up here with a few friends to shoot the year’s first sunrise. Parties keep happening but this is a different high,” Shirodkar said.
The partial lunar eclipse will be the last of the four lunar eclipses that took place in 2009. “The greatest eclipse will start at 12.22am and will be over by 1am. The whole city will be awake. You don’t need any special equipment to view the eclipse. Anybody can see it from the window,” Milind Kale of Khagol Mandal, Mumbai’s largest amateur astronomer’s club, said.
Kale added that there is another reason why the New Year’s Eve will be special. “It marks the end of the International Year of Astronomy,” Kale said. Four hundred years ago Galileo Galilei recorded his first observations through a telescope. To celebrate the great invention, 2009 was declared the International Year of Astronomy. In numerous events throughout the world, scientists and astronomers got together to spread awareness about the field of astronomy. “A number of successful events were held in Mumbai too. We hope that similar events continue even after the year comes to an end,” Kale said.
Amateur astronomer Pradeep Nayak also has special plans for the New Year’s Eve. Nayak, along with his friends, will be setting up a telescope in Kalyan around midnight. “Anybody is welcome to join us. We will be looking at the eclipse from a telescope. We will also brief people about the International Year of Astronomy and provide information on the upcoming solar eclipse in January 2010. The main idea is to get people interested in astronomy,” Nayak said.
BSNL employee and honorary lecturer at the Nehru Planetarium, S Natarajan, has a small star gazing event organised for the December 31 night. “I will be setting up a telescope at Mahim. Anybody interested can come and look at the eclipse through the telescope. It’s a New Year with a difference. I think it’s a great way to start 2010,” Natarajan said.
(For further details contact S Natarajan at 9869264477 and Pradeep Nayak at 9819493336).