Astronomical events in June

Astronomical events in June
Astronomical events in June

Longest day in the year, Summer Solstice. The Summer solstice occurs at 03:13 IST.

June 21 - Longest day in the year, Summer Solstice. The Summer solstice occurs at 03:13 IST. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

June 21 – Annual Solar Eclipse

There is an Annular Solar Eclipse on Sunday, 21 June. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching the earth. The shadow of the moon is then cast on the earth.

Since the moon is farther away from the earth, it seems smaller and does not block the entire view of the sun. Instead, the moon in front of the sun looks like a dark disk on top of a larger disk and appears like a ring of fire.

The eclipse will be visible from parts of Africa, including Central African Republic, Congo and Ethiopia, South of Pakistan, Northern India and China. The eclipse will begin at 9.15 am IST and will end at 15.04 pm. The maximum eclipse will be visible at 12.10 pm.

Ultra violet radiation and Covid-19

The world is desperate about how to contain Covid-19. All sorts of measures are being tested. One measure coming from an entirely different quarter could be this. After all these viruses are DNA molecules and they have complex emission and rotation spectra. So Dr. Sidharth suggested if they could be irradiated by a relatively harmless radiation then they would be made dysfunctional. This option can be explored. Though it had to be seen what radiation experts had suggested that it would be infra red radiation (heat). But this has been nullified or negated by the fact that as the temperatures have risen so also have the Covid cases. Studies now indicate that ultra violet radiation may be having the desired effect.

Nature cure to control the pandemic

The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi is collaborating with a Japanese institute to see if the Ayurvedic drug Aswagandha is useful in the context of the Covid-19. Already a few people in the US are taking Aswagandha pills as a prophylactic. This brings us to another interesting aspect namely water collected from Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges in the upper Himalayas. Many in India store a few ounces of this in small copper containers and the water remains without getting spoilt for decades and more.

A prevailing theory some decades back was that this upper Himalayan water contains the low radioactive Ceasium atoms which purify the water. More recently another line of thinking developed namely that this water contains some Himalayan plants or herbs which fight the bacterial content in the water. In fact the Himalayan herbs are well known in mythology. For example the hero Hanuman carrying a mountain of Himalayan herbs to revive the epic heroes Rama and Lakshmana who swooned because of the Mohini astra, a weapon that induces a comatose type of a situation. The smell of these plants revived the epic heroes. May be some of the herbs or plants mixed with the water in the upper regions of the Himalayas could provide a curative or prophylactic effect for Corona Virus too.

(The author is Director, B M Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad)

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