Heliodyssey 2008 – Russia
A contingent of 40 people comprising of 5 winners, amateurs, astronomy enthusiasts and scientists embark on the journey to Russia, to view and study the most spectacular phenomena of the nature- the total solar eclipse of 1st August 2008. Enriched by the culture of St. Petersburg and Moscow the team finally arrived at the final destination of Novosibirsk, where they were to observe the eclipse. With less time in hands experts didn’t waste a minute, and training went on even at the airport. The team launched into action as soon as they touched the Pedagogical University grounds, the eclipse site. The equipment was set & the rehearsals for the next day started, the thrill had set in. While students were put to bed early for a long next day, few of the team members stayed back at the setup, to protect and further tune the equipment.
The sun rose and brought with it a day of excitement and thrill. All was set and the experiments started way before the first contact.
There were hints of disappointment on the team members’ faces as the clouds did not seem to give way to the sun. Everyone looked for reassurance. Moments before the eclipse the clouds parted, not to be seen during the whole event of two hours.
The data was recorded, photographs were clicked, shouting, screaming, awe, all were in the air. It was an astronomy fest going on as people from Russia and other nations joined on the ground. The second contact received shouts, jumps and screams beyond description. The most beautiful diamond ring appeared and then the corona of the sun was visible for complete 2 min. and 17 sec. Planets were visible and so was the excitement. The second diamond ring gave way to more streaks of light and the partial phases took over again, leaving an awestruck team hungry for more.
While all this was going on in Russia with the team, another team at home in India had worked day and night, conducting workshops in schools and motivating students and teachers all over India to hold public observations in their schools for the eclipse. Till two days before the eclipse the weather looked disheartening but enthusiastic schools finally opened up their gates to the general public and parents. The eclipse was projected on screens for them to see and sessions on and about eclipses were held to eradicate the associated myths.
50 centers across India held public watches under Heliodyssey – India segment.
SPACE Observations at India Gate, Nehru Planetarium, Raja Garden saw 2000 observers.
SPACE Club students at 41 Schools in Delhi/NCR catered to 4000 observers.
SPACE Hyderabad Office at the office itself looked after 100 observers.
SPACE Nodal Centers, at Punjab, Guwahati (Assam), Chennai, Jaipur, Wardha (Maharashtra), across
India educated 400 observers.