Dutch astronaut observes total solar eclipse in Central Sulawesi

Dutch astronaut observes total solar eclipse in Central Sulawesi

European astronaut Andre Kuipers (Reuters)

Kuipers met Vice President Jusuf Kalla and discussed about the TSE.
Palu, C Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers observed the rare natural phenomenon of the total solar eclipse (TSE) at Kotapulu stadium, Sigi District, Central Sulawesi, on Wednesday.

European Space Agency astronaut Kuipers had flown two space missions, the first being the DELTA mission in 2004.

On December 21, 2011, Kuipers was sent on his second spaceflight PromISSe on Expedition 30 and Expedition 31. He returned to Earth on July 1, 2012.

Kuipers arrived in Indonesia three days ago through the Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport.

He praised Kotapulu as one of the areas to view the TSE as its location was quite good and strategic.

Hundreds of researchers, foreign and domestic tourists, as well as officials flocked to the village, which is located some 15 kilometers south of Palu.

Kuipers brought along special equipment to witness the TSE. He urged the people to view the natural phenomenon through special glasses.

Kuipers was glad to view the TSE along with Indonesian people.

In addition, Kuipers met Vice President Jusuf Kalla and discussed about the TSE.

Andre and his colleagues expressed joy at being able to witness the natural phenomenon during which the Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow (the umbra) on Earth.

Other researchers and tourists also expressed their excitement when the Moon fully blocked the view of the Sun.

The National Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had installed two binoculars and a widescreen monitor to observe the TSE.

Earlier, Vice President Kalla had expressed hope that some scientific discoveries would be made following the TSE that was visible in 12 of the countrys 34 provinces on Wednesday morning.

"For the younger generation, a natural phenomenon of this kind is routine and could produce new theories," Kalla stated after watching the TSE along with the local people in Kotapulu, Sigi District, Central Sulawesi.

"I am grateful that this place is suitable and not cloudy. Scientists have come here," Kalla, who was accompanied by Communication and Informatics Minister Rudy Antara and BMKG Head Andi Eka Sakya, noted.

Kalla said he was highly impressed after witnessing the TSE, which lasted for two minutes and two seconds, starting at 8:37 a.m. Central Indonesian Standard Time (Wita).

"For me, it is very beautiful. How the Sun, which is located some 150 million kilometers (km) from the Earth, and the Moon, 40 million km, could be visible on the right side. This is a sign of the greatness of Allah," Kalla affirmed.

He recalled that in 1983, a similar phenomenon had also occurred, but the authorities had banned the people from watching it as they said it could cause blindness.

Several foreign researchers and scientists were also present in Sigi, which is believed to be one of the best viewing spots for the TSE.(*)

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