When the moon blotted out the sun

Rare moments (Top left to right) Just before the eclipse; A chunk of the sun disappears; The crescent appears. (Bottom left to right) The Ring of Fire; the beginning of the end; the sun makes a comeback   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When we arrived in Coonoor on the afternoon of Christmas Day, the weather was spectacularly foggy. The Mango Astronomy Club had travelled to the town in the Nilgiris to view the last solar eclipse of the year. To add to our excitement, it was also an annular solar eclipse. That night, we got our cameras and telescopes ready by fitting them all with solar filters.

Luckily our fears for D-Day, December 26, were unfounded. The sky was crystal clear from as early as 4.30 am. As the sun rose over the horizon, our equipment had all been set up and we were waiting for the moment.


At 8.10 am, a small dent on the sun was seen. The eclipse had begun. Slowly the moon began to cover more and more of the sun and the students started clicking photos. We could see the low-lying clouds over Mettupalayam and Coimbatore and realised that people in the city were probably not being able to get the best of this event. We hoped that we were not in for a disappointment as well as we were all anxious to view the Ring of Fire moment.

At 8.29, the moon moved into position and gave us a breathtaking view of the halo. The sky was dark but still observable. For the next three minutes, all one could hear was the clicks of cameras as everyone went crazy at the sight of the ring.

As the moon continued its movement, the sun slowly came back to its full glory.

At around 10.40 am, the clouds came back and blocked the view. And stayed put for the rest of the day. But we didn’t care now. A bit of research to find the right place and some luck in terms of weather allowed us to see for ourselves almost all the phases of this rare eclipse.

Obuli Chandran is a science educator and co-founder of Mango Education

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 3:01:41 PM |

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