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Border sky watch ahead of eclipse

Siliguri, July 20: In a bid to foster brotherhood and global integrity, astronomers from India and Bangladesh will walk up to the zero line on the border tomorrow for a rare meeting ahead of the total solar eclipse on Wednesday.

The exercise is part of the global initiative by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), launched by prominent US astronomer Mike Simmons. The AWB will try to impart a feeling of harmony by integrating the astronomers, both amateur and professional ones of the world.

A 15-member team of the Sky Watchers’ Association of North Bengal (SWAN) will meet those associated with the Bangladesh Astronomical Society. “With active help from BSF and BDR, we will meet Bangladeshi astronomers at the zero line of the international border tomorrow,” said Debasis Sarkar, secretary of the SWAN.

“Officials of the AWB in India said the meeting between the astronomers of Bangladesh and India on the border would be the first of its kind. The message we want to disseminate is of brotherhood, harmony and peace among all who live under the sky,” said Sarkar.

The event will take place at Chopra in North Dinajpur district around 5pm, just a few hours before north Bengal witnesses the phenomenon. The total solar eclipse that begins at 5.30am on Wednesday will be the first after June 4, 1788 and the last before May 14, 2124 in north Bengal.

Manoj Pai, who is associated with the AWB, said the SWAN had been made an affiliate of Simmons initiative. The AWB comprises several astronomers’ organisations and clubs from 27 countries across the world.

“As both teams reach the zero line, they will exchange greetings, take pictures of the evening sky of the other side and exchange the photographs as part of a goodwill gesture. The co-ordinators of each side will then brief the teams and officials of BSF and BDR on the objective of the gathering,” said Pai.

“After the briefing, there will be exchanges of small tokens and greetings and finally, national anthems of both the countries will be sung by those present at the zero line. Later, each team will return to its respective country and prepare for the eclipse,” he added.

After tomorrow’s event, dubbed “star party”, SWAN members will spend the night in a convenient location to watch the eclipse.

“We will have a number of activities like detail photo coverage and study of Bailey’s beads.They will be analysed later by eminent scientists of international agencies,” said Tanmoy Goswami, a member, of the SWAN.

Ahead of the solar event, people are busy collecting special spectacles which will ensure that eyes are not harmed while watching the eclipse.

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