SPACE EXPEDITION TO HONGKONG FOR ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE-2012
On May 21, 2012, one of the most spectacular celestial event took place –the "ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE "also known as the "Ring Of Fire".
This was an important event for scientists, Astronomers, Students and amateurs to study and understand the solar system and the dynamics of the sun particularly.
A team of six students of TAFS along with Mrs.Namita Mamgain were selected to be a part of the space expedition of eclipse chasers, to Hongkong to witness and study the Annular Solar Eclipse. This eclipse was not visible from India. An Annular solar eclipse occurs when the sun and the moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun .Hence the sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus surrounding the outline of moon.
The expedition team of eclipse chasers consisted of students from other prestigious schools of Delhi along with Astronomers, Scientists, Amateurs, photographers and eminent researchers from across the globe.
We reached Hongkong early morning on 18th May 2012 and thereafter had a compact and tight schedule of fun filled educational and scientific activities spread over a period of five days.
The stay of the entire team was arranged at Harbor Plaza Resort City which is situated in new Hongkong. Students had an excellent opportunity to interact with other fellow students and share the knowledge. The day started with an introductory session by Mr. C.B. Devgun in which he elaborated on the basics facts about solar eclipses. The lists of experiments to be done at the Annular Solar Eclipse Hongkong-2012 were:
Contact timings, Temperature variations, Wind speed Variations, Photographic experiments—Capturing contacts, Finding Sun/Moon size ratio, Photographing eclipse at various focal lengths, finding diameter of the sun, finding diameter of the moon, obscuration ratio, magnitude of eclipse, Aesthetic photography, Interviews of the participants,HD video recording and webcast.
Then the group proceeded to the guided city tour of Hongkong which included
• Ride in the Victoria Peak Tram
• Picturesque Repulse Bay
• Golden Bauhinia Square
• Symphony of lights show from the harbor.
The second was a full day visit to the Disneyland with exciting fantasy land, Disney parade, amazing rides and fireworks. This was followed by an evening session in which the techniques to observe Solar eclipse was explained. The students were also guided to make solar filters and solar glasses. The sun's disc can be viewed using appropriate filtration to block the harmful part of the sun's radiation. Sunglasses are not safe as they block the harmful and invisible infrared radiations which cause retinal damage. Only properly designed and certified solar filters should be used for direct viewing of the Sun's disc. The safest way to view the Sun's disc is by indirect projection. This can be done by projecting an image of the disc onto a white piece of paper or card using a pair of binoculars with one of the lenses covered or a pinhole camera.
The third day started with some observational experiments followed by Visit to Ocean Park to experience the largest marine theatre. It was an amazing sight to watch synchronized performance of the sea animals like sea lions, dolphins, sharks, penguins and killer whales. The rides included exhilarating Roller coaster, Space Wheel, raging river etc.
21 May was the most awaited day. We moved to the eclipse sight at 3:30 AM along with all the experimental equipment and full of excitement. The details of the eclipse were:
The site was vibrating with excitement and people of all ages and all walks of life were present. The large telescopes were installed at various positions. Journalists were also taking interviews and photographs to catch and capture every moment. The entire space expedition was allotted a special location by the authorities and all the facilities were provided to us. The locals were highly impressed to witness the dedication of the young eclipse chasers. The students set up the apparatus as per the allocations done by Mr.Devgun. The sky was still dark and the city skyline looked fabulous--Hongkong is essentially a city of skyscrapers .The thundering clouds sent the alarm of threat and everybody was speculating whether the dense clouds would make way for the sun at the sunrise. The weather experts were busy analyzing the satellite pictures and do the relevant predictions for the morning. The anxious crowd flocked around them for the latest update. As the time of sunrise approached the clouds played a spoil sport and did not let the sun appear. The first contact could not be seen. A sense of gloom prevailed, but still we kept up the positive spirit.
But then to everybody's delight the sun became visible with the partial obscuration and the crowd cheered and clapped at the wonderful sight. It was breathtaking. The students continued with experiments of Contact timings, Temperature variations, wind speed Variations and other Photographic experiments.
The clouds again were playing hide and seek with the Sun, yet certain memorable moments and pictures could be done successfully. It was an amazing experience.
TAFS students participated actively in all the experiments and were highly appreciated. Later during the day our students visited the Indian consulate in Hongkong and met the senior officials. After visiting the Planetarium the evening was spent at the Stanley market and other shopping malls.
On the last day we visited the pristine Lantau Island by the cable car to visit the largest statue of Lord Budha. From there we proceeded to the airport to board the flight back to India.