I saw the total solar eclipse!

Total Solar Eclipse - Diamond Ring
Total Solar Eclipse - Diamond Ring

“Class 8th D, 10th boy from the front – come up” Boomed the stern voice of the PT teacher. Someone shook the appropriate boy from conversation he was engrossed in. He climbed up to the first floor podium, tachaak, tachaak!! Two slaps delivered, he was told to stand aside and listen to what was being spoken about the solar eclipse in the school assembly.

That boy was me and I did not give a damn! I was still ecstatic…

OK! let me put this into perspective and relate what faded the above into insignificance.

The year was 1980 and I was all of 13 years old. I had anticipated the celestial mega event for almost an year now. There was to be a total solar eclipse on February 16th, 1980 in India. Though there was a slight hitch, the path of totality did not cross over Nagpur.

Total Solar Eclipse - Bailey's beads
Total Solar Eclipse - Bailey's Beads

I came to know through a friend of my elder brother that the Nagpur University Physics department was planning an expedition to see the total eclipse.  As luck would have it I somewhat or rather somehow knew Dr. G.N. Navneet the then head of Physics department, Nagpur University and I managed to impress him enough to let me accompany them if I kept out of the way.

Total Solar Eclipse - Corona
Total Solar Eclipse - Corona

Ultimately it turned out that the expedition got so popular in the university that they had to book a complete train bogey and there were complete families but I was the youngest solo member of the team. The expedition was for Khamam, Andhra Pradesh. A sleepy little town some 190km from Hyderabad. We reached well in advanced camped in some school. I was very readily  allowed to ask as many questions as I wanted to, peer at the phenonmenon through every instrument that was aimed at the sun and generally had a great time.

Mr. G.K. Shrivastava and the camera which captured the above images

The pictures too have a co-incidence – they were taken by by Swati‘s father, my present father-in-law, who was the official photographer for the expedition.

Oh yes! The PT teacher came back to me after the assembly and asked me what was so important about which I was talking about?

I said “I saw the total solar eclipse!”

That I was overheard by the science teacher passing by and saved me from further punishment was incidental.

  • Prakash Prabhu

    Hi… I too am fortunate to witness the Feb16th 1980 total solar eclipse… we travelled to Snkola in Karnataka about 250 KM from mangalore. I experienced with my bare eyes… the formation of the diamond ring… the bailey’s beads… the darkness… it was just spectacular and once ina life time to happen….My Opthalmologist always tells me that there is a scar on my retina….. Good to read ur blog.

    • tariquesani

      Hi Prakash Prabhu, Thanks for visiting my journal and thanks for sharing your experience – Hope the retinal scar does not interfere with your vision…

      • Prakash Prabhu

        Hi… of course not…. in fact that day, one of our close family friends who was with us was a renowned Ophthalmic surgeon and we took all precautions while viewing. Then he only told me after nearly 10 years, when I went for my check up for reading glasses, he casually mentioned that he can see a minor scar due to the eclipse…which I was not aware of and not interfering in any way at all. Appreciate ur concern. Have great day.

  • Deepa Mohan

    Apart from the awesome images and the impressive fact that it was Swati’s dad who captured them….you have, in one post, encapsulated what’s wrong with much of our educational system. My blood still boiled for that 13 year old boy, no matter how much in the past that was.

    • tariquesani

      Deepa, Thanks for the appreciation and empathy. In a broader view what I have written is true for humans in general – those with brute power don’t want to listen to reason but those with a scientific temperament are more open to the views of others.

  • american visitor

    I was in Calcutta, India for the Feb 16, 1980 Eclipse. It was amazing! Normally crowded streets were empty. Very Eerie.

    • tariquesani

      Yes, the totality does get to be eerie and then in India there are so many superstitions attached with eclipse… people don’t venture out

  • pavithran

    Ahh you were at Khammam ( correct spelling 😛 ) during 1980 !!

    I was not yet born . Though I follow your blog I didn’t notice this post till you geo tagged the pics to Khammam 😀

    Do you have any pictures of Khammam from 1980 and in a CC license . I would like to use them for Khammam wikipedia article .

    BTW Khammam is my hometown and is my $HOME 😉

    • tariquesani

      Sorry, No – I don’t have any other pictures of Khammam