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Trinis join world for solar eclipse spectacle

The trinidad Guardian / Hundreds of people gathered on the San Fernando Hill on Monday to witness a little piece of history with a partial eclipse of the sun.

After witnessing the event shortly before 3 pm, Karishma Ramnath told the T&T Guardian “it was great, it looked like somebody took a bite out of the sun.”

The UWI student who wants to be an astrophysicist said it was a “one in a million opportunity,” and she was hoping that many citizens took advantage of the opportunity offered to view the eclipse at five venues across the country.

There were long lines for the five telescopes with solar filters set up on the hill, especially for the event.

But many people walked with their own devices. A small group of friends walked with what was perhaps the most innovative piece of paraphernalia to view the event, an x-ray sheet used in medical labs.

Sharon Burford, who came with her son Ryan, said she was “excited to be part of the historic event.”

Burford said she showed Ryan how to make a pinhole projector to view the eclipse safely. They used “a cornflakes box, white paper, tinfoil, tape and a scissors” to construct the device.

She said that the secret was to ensure “that the sun is behind you, look into the viewfinder and you will see the eclipse inside the box.”

Asked if this was safe given the warnings against looking at the eclipse with the bare eye, Burford said “Yes. It will project the image on to the back of the box so we can see it safely.” Others used welding glass to view the event.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Astro-Club Khyle Ramnath said the shade twelve welding glass was “safe to use.”

Ramnath said because this country only experienced a partial eclipse, it would not be as dark as in other countries.

Clouds covered the sky but it did not stop those gathered from witnessing the piece of history they had come to be part of.

Ramnath said the club wanted to ensure as many people as possible got the opportunity to experience the eclipse “we have set up five telescopes with solar filters and 100 solar glasses which adhere to NASA standards, of ISO 123/12/2 that is the safest recommended for you to use.”

Unfortunately, however, there were only 100 pairs and some people were forced to wait on the telescopes.

In an effort to ensure as many people got the opportunity to see the eclipse given the limited equipment available, the Astro club set up one of the telescopes to project its image on a flat-screen TV.

Some of the lucky viewers who were in possession of the solar glasses provided by the Astro Club to view the eclipse were allowed to keep them.

While Ramnath said this eclipse was only “64 per cent coverage of the sun,” a total eclipse of the sun will take place in 2045.

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