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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2730

Millions watch total solar eclipse from northern Bangladesh

M.A Qader- Reporting from Bangladesh

Dhaka, 23 July ( About thirty million people in the northern Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat, Panchagarh and Thakurgaon districts of Bangladesh watched the total solar eclipse for 3-4 minutes.

Enthralled viewers described an "indescribable darkness" as crickets sang and stars became visible for a fleeting few minutes on a July morning.

Other areas of the country viewed a partial eclipse. The height of the eclipse took place between 7:55am and 8am ranging between 83 percent in the south and 100 percent in northern districts. The capital city Dhaka saw a partial eclipse of 93 percent.

Panchagarh was the epicenter of totality in Bangladesh. Spectators began assembling at the stadium from 5 am and by around 7 am the place was buzzing with people that had travelled from every corner of Bangladesh and some from abroad.

"Totality was seen at around 7:57am and lasted several minutes," said Dipen Bhattacharya, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, who came to Bangladesh to see the eclipse, according to a local news agency.

"I am overwhelmed. I did not expect this much. It cannot be expressed in words," he said.

He said an eclipse was never seen like this in Bangladesh or anywhere else.

The stadium-watch arrangements were made by the National Science and Technology Museum, Bangladesh Astronomical Association and Onusondhitsu Chokro.

"The stadium was packed full," Bangladesh Science and Technology Museum Curator Sukallyan Bachhar told a local news agency.

"There were clouds, so we couldn't see the entire two-hour event uninterrupted. We got intermittent views as the moon began passing in front of the sun," he said.

"People became very emotional," he said.

"It was dark for about three or four minutes, and crickets started chirping as if it was night," said a viewer.

Another said, "It went completely dark. But it was an absolutely indescribable dark."

Some people get scared too and superstitions are still rife in many parts of the world. In Panchagarh some were seen running towards their homes as the sudden darkness descended.

As the temperature drops, a final diamond-like flash is seen just before total darkness sets in and a few wisps of ephemeral light from the corona are visible and 'daytime' stars appear in the sky.

The entire event, as the moon starts edging out the sun, took two hours, from around 7:00-9:00am in Bangladesh, with the full eclipse, visible only in the north, occurring midway just before 8:00am.

Meteorologists said temperatures fell by between 3-5 degrees, from an average 16-18C countrywide, as the sun's rays were blocked by the moon.

The duration of Wednesday's total eclipse will be unsurpassed until June 13, 2132, while Bangladesh will have to wait another 105 years to see another full solar eclipse, on June 2, 2114.

-Asian Tribune-

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