REYAD HOSEIN, LAQUESHA BAILEY (NYLO INTERNS)
Hundreds flocked to the San Fernando Hill earlier today to witness the much anticipated celestial event, a partial solar eclipse. The Trinidad and Tobago Astro Club hosted the public to its solar eclipse viewing session at the Hill from 2 pm to 5 pm on Monday. President of the club, Khyle Ramnath said, “We had a huge turnout, there was much more people than we expected, a lot of Astro events are held up North so, we decided to bring this event to south Trinidad, this eclipse is a spectacular event to witness.” Park officials estimated the crowd to be over 1,200 strong and many were unable to find parking and had to walk up the hill through the scorching sun just to be a part of this event.
According to NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) website, sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth and this causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse the actually moon casts two shadows on Earth. The first shadow is called the umbra. This shadow gets smaller as it reaches Earth. It is the dark centre of the moon’s shadow. The second shadow is called the penumbra. The penumbra gets larger as it reaches Earth. People standing in the penumbra will see a partial eclipse. People standing in the umbra will see a total eclipse. Trinidad and Tobago is located in the penumbra so only 62 per cent coverage of the moon was seen.
On the Hill, spectators gave their take on what the eclipse meant to them. Allison Shepard, lecturer at University of West Indies (UWI) said, “I am fascinated with astronomy,I did an astronomy course at UWI so I could not miss this.” Dennis Karamath a physics teacher said, “I came for the experience. The last time I saw a solar eclipse was in the 90s when I was marking CXC papers.” Cherry Ann Felix, a medical doctor said, “It is a shared experience across the globe, we can all come together and take part in this.” Gerry Barrow, founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Astro club said “This is a relatively rare event that stirred some sort of interest. I am totally overwhelmed ”. He also said, “there is alot of nonsense about omens and darkness concerning an eclipse and this foolishness has to stop.”
Popular psychic, Yesenia Gonzalez on her Facebook page stated the eclipse was an ominous sign, “the diamond ring effect, a negative effect is a bad sign, bad time , there is a big warning something big will happen after the solar eclipse.” Meanwhile, the Caribbean Institute of Astronomy’s (CARINA) viewing event hosted yesterday at the Queen’s Park Savannah to observe the partial solar eclipse was marked with disappointing cloud coverage.
The event gave the public the opportunity to witness the solar eclipse, a phenomenon that owing to the small path of eclipses, will not be viewed from Trinidad and Tobago until 2045. However, clouds blocked the eclipse from view for long periods at a time and onlookers could only manage brief glimpses through protective glasses provided free of charge by CARINA.
The public, however, came out in their numbers, with many expressing their eagerness to see the eclipse.
President of CARINA, Graham Rostant said the turnout was more than they anticipated and because of this there were not enough filtered glasses for everyone. This did not stop people from viewing the eclipse though as many resorted to taking turns sharing pairs and some even used their creativity to fashion pinhole cameras out of cardboard and cereal boxes in an attempt to see the solar eclipse.