Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Solar Eclipse Experience...

Having read about the solar eclipse in Asia (best observed in India apparently) yesterday (7/22), reminded me of my own experience witnessing not one, but two solar eclipses in the last century.

The first one was while I was in my last year (as a student) at Kent State University (1993-1994). However, unlike the eclipse yesterday, all we witnessed was an annular eclipse. According to Wikipedia, “An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the outline of the Moon.”

I remember a large shadow being cast over the campus as if a rather large cloud was overhead, and felt a slight shiver. Still, an interesting first experience observing a solar eclipse.

I was lucky enough to be living in Europe (Great Britain) in 1999 which was directly in the path of the century’s last total eclipse. Although we could have traveled to Cornwall, which was reckoned to be the best place to view it in England, I read about a coach trip to France where the viewing was supposed to be equally good. Having never been to France before, that won hands down.

Our group traveled to the city of Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, and best known as the location where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Although the day started out as rather promising (sunny with a gentle breeze), clouds eventually started rolling in and somewhat obscured the sun during the eclipse. However, we all still took necessary precautions and tried not to stare directly at the sun. Even though we couldn’t see the eclipse as much as we would have liked, we still witnessed the effect of a total solar eclipse.

The square where we were standing gradually plunged into darkness, causing the street lights to come on mid-afternoon. There was an eery silence as all the birds fled to their nocturnal shelter. I’m sure they were completely confused! I just remember being in awe of this spectacle of nature and being so grateful to be sharing it with my husband nearly a year after we were married.

To view more of my eclipse pictures, click on the link here:


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