Shrieks of delight reverberated from the Anna Science Centre Planetarium campus on Friday as the young and the old rejoiced about catching a glimpse of a partially eclipsed sun that glowed a bright orange.

While most of the city roads wore a deserted look, the vicinity of the planetarium teemed with people, right from the morning, eager to view the annular solar eclipse, considered the century’s longest solar eclipse. The crowd started pouring in at the campus right from 10 a.m. though the planetarium authorities had announced that the eclipse would be visible from 11.15 a.m. in the city.

Given the clear sky, the excited crowd was not disappointed. Except for a brief phase of cloud cover between 12.30 and 12.45 p.m., the eclipse was visible till the end, 3.10 p.m. The planetarium authorities had made available a sun spotter, welder’s safety glasses and also distributed about 300 solar goggles for safe viewing. Besides, the sun’s image was reflected through mirrors stuck on balls at a couple of places.

Though they could see only a partially eclipsed sun in the city, the assembled gathering was more than happy. “I ventured out to view the annular eclipse as it was said to be happening after 108 years. It was wonderful. Initially, I could see only a small portion of the sun eclipsed but slowly the moon slithered across the sun’s disk,” observed Ananya, a standard XII student of Thillai Nagar in the city.

Just as the moon seemed to slowly gobble up the sun, there appeared to be a drop in temperature and for a brief period, the atmosphere turned dawn-like. Excitement touched a peak as the maximum eclipse of 84 per cent occurred at 1.23 p.m. “It looked like a crescent, almost like a slightly broken bangle,” observed J.R. Palanisamy, Senior Scientific Officer of the Planetarium, who along with other staff made the arrangements for the public to safely view the eclipse.

Mr. Palanisamy said the response from the public was good this time. “Compared to the previous occasion, the turnout was good. Many viewed the eclipse right from the start to the end,” he said. Some school students had come in groups along with their teachers from places such as Perambalur and Musiri, he added.

Staff reporter from Karaikkal:

A ring of fire shimmered against the complete blackness of the sky ushering in the annular solar eclipse of 2010 on Friday here. The sun, gleamed in beautiful orange – the colour of dawn, and stood engulfed, as it waxed and waned with the passage of the moon.

After 108 years, a solar eclipse of this magnitude, quality, intensity and direction had appeared and a similar one would occur after 1033 years in 3043, says a member of Puducherry Science Forum.

Ingenuity marked the scientific spirit of the people here at the observation venue. A ball with a small mirror plastered to it was placed to reflect the image of a blotted out sun to the wall. Further, a telescope was placed and image captured was reflected onto a cardboard for people to view the eclipse.

The sun was spotted out by the moon to form a ring of fire that lasted between 1.24 p.m. to 1.29 P.M. Through the special viewing glasses, the sun was a majestic ring now, a golden moon there, as the moon slowly gobbled up and gobbled out the ball of fire.

The solar eclipse observation organised jointly by the Puducherry Science Forum and the Department of Science and Technology triggered such keen interest among the people who thronged the venue despite Pongal festivities. Over 1,000 people had arrived, few even from Chennai, to view the annular solar eclipse at the Annai Theresa Government Girls Higher Secondary School. A.M.H Najim, Opposition leader, Puducherry Assembly, was one among the many keen visitors.

Karaikal is believed to have experienced a 96 per cent visibility.

Students of the Avvayar College for Women sat through the eclipse from 10.45 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. to observe the changes in sea water. A Ph metre was placed to evaluate the ionic activity of Hydrogen in sea water along with the changes in temperature during the course of the eclipse. Further, a Lux Metre was used to observe the intensity of the Sun.

Students of biology had set out to collect botanical samples from four villages here to ascertain the changes during the solar eclipse.

The recorded temperature during the 5 minute period of complete eclipse was 28.2 degree Celsius. As the Ph value increased, the temperature had decreased, said the students of Physics observing the enumeration. On the sidelines, a slide presentation was shown to explain the phenomenon of eclipse, its history and research involved.