Darkness after sunrise: Are you ready for the first and longest solar eclipse of the 21st century?

Whatever you are doing on the morning of 22 July, drop it. Get up early. Get ready for the astronomical event of the century: you're not going see a total solar eclipse that lasts this long again.
The total eclipse, the first since in 2006, will traverse a path that begins in India, passes through Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and then to China and the Pacific Ocean.

Those who see no distinction between astronomical events and astrology, say the timing is ominous. Eclipses are regarded as a bad omen and could portend more political turmoil ahead.

Whatever its mythical or political significance, the eclipse will be a spectacular sight. Cross your fingers and hope that the monsoon clouds will part and allow us a good view. But even under the cloud cover, there will be total darkness beneath the umbral shadow for about 3.5 minutes.

In Nepal, we have a ringside view of the total eclipse in the country's south-eastern corner: Ilam, Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Dharan, Rajbiraj, Dhankuta and Janakpur. Fikkal in Ilam will be one of the best places to view the eclipse as the shadow crosses the south face of Kangchenjunga.

In the rest of Nepal,the eclipse will be partial. The new moon will obscure 96 per cent of the sun's disc as seen from Kathmandu where the eclipse will start at 5.45AM, reaching its climax at 6.42AM and ending at 7.45AM.

Though perhaps the sight will be unwelcome in a city where people jaded by power cuts and political wrangling have grown bitterly indifferent to the darkness.

Hopefully it will be more cheerily welcomed in Pokhara. Here, the eclipse will first appear at 5.46AM, end at 7.44AM, and reach it maximum extent, obscuring 93 per cent of the sun, at 6.42AM . In Dadeldhura in far-western Nepal, the eclipse will shield only 85 per cent of the sun but should last longer from 4.46-7.42AM.

So, now you have the facts. Turn your eyes away for the tv, disinter your nose from your books, and be a witness to this rare cosmic event.
Report by mahesh sagar khanal for scientific nepal

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