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Treat eclipses as natural celestial events: Astrophysicist

An eminent astrophysicist has called for eclipses to be treated as natural celestial events and not to believe in superstitions surrounding them.

An eminent astrophysicist has called for eclipses to be treated as natural celestial events and not to believe in superstitions surrounding them. Several parts of India and the world will witness a total lunar eclipse on Tuesday, just a fortnight after a partial solar eclipse.

Astrophysicist Debi Prasad Duari said it is unfortunate that people give credence to superstitions regarding such natural celestial events, despite the tremendous advances in space science and technology in the 21st century. “People should not believe in this sort of thing and go ahead and see it as a natural heavenly event,” he said.

Duari, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union, said superstitions surrounding a solar or lunar eclipse are common not only in the country, but also in different parts of the world. In India, people do not eat or cook food during solar eclipses. Some do not even step out in the open during these celestial events. Some also believe that pregnant women should not leave their homes during a solar eclipse, as exposure to it can harm a fetus.

However, superstitions surrounding solar eclipses are more compared to those involving the lunar eclipse. “A solar eclipse will in no way affect our lives, behavior, future or past,” Duari said. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through Earth’s shadow region on a full moon night, the astrophysicist said. Precautions are not required to watch a lunar eclipse, although it is a must to take certain precautions when watching a solar eclipse.

Watching a solar eclipse with the naked eye can cause irreparable damage to the retina. In addition to India, residents of other parts of Asia, the Americas, Australia, the North Atlantic and the Pacific will be able to witness the celestial event, he added.

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