Last Eclipse of the Sun this Millennium

Mojtaba Kheir-Khah, Iran

Once again the enormous star which we call the sun will be hidden from earth dwellers, not as at sunset which is caused by the earth's rotation, but by the moon. From the earliest times mankind has been interested in cosmic phenomena some understood, others not yet understood but all in some way exciting. A solar eclipse is more exciting than a lunar eclipse.

Astronomers predict that the last eclipse of the sun in this second millennium will occur on Wednesday, August 11. It will first be seen in the Atlantic east of New York in the morning and will continue 14,000 kilometres passing over 12 European and Asian countries including Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan and ending to the east of the Indian sub continent in the Bay of Bengal.

NASA, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has stated that the southern Iranian city Esfahan will be a very suitable place to view this exciting cosmic phenomenon.

Iranian astronomers report that the longest total eclipse in Iran during the 20th century will occur at 16.40 local time and last 1 minute 35 seconds but in the neighbouring province Naghaf-abad it will last eight seconds longer. It is worth mentioning that Esfahan itself is a famous city attracting tourists from around the world because of its history, architecture and art treasures. It might even be said that a heavenly wonder may be observed from a repository of terrestrial wonders.

A University cosmology group ABA, "Ashti Ba Asemin" collaborating with students will endeavour to inform people about the event both within and outside Iran. ABA has arranged to stage a seminar in Tehran to coincide with the eclipse and provide an opportunity for a large gathering of students in Esfahan to study it. The previous day August 10, there will be a special seminar about "The History of Sidereal Studies in Iran" in which researchers from other countries will participate.

Preparations have been made to provide up to date information on the internet. The eclipse has provided a unique opportunity to promote tourism and the Iranian tourist industry has made suitable preparations. Astronomers warn Iranians and visitors that it is essential to protect the eyes not with smoked glass but with special glasses guaranteed to protect the eyes. Watching the eclipse with the naked eye would endanger the sight of the observers.

I am not just joking but during a total eclipse one loses part of oneself- one loses one's shadow. During the disappearance of the sun we find ourselves briefly in the lunar shadow perhaps without realising it. To be in the track of totality, where the eclipse is complete, is something most people would like to experience and would be something one would never forget.

Finally I also suggest that during the next lunar eclipse the observers notice a shadow of the earth on the moon, and then ask a question "Which is above or below the other?!".

Translated from Esperanto by:

Gwenda Sutton