My very first Eclipse.
How can you
prepare yourself for something that you read a lot about and has been described
before? I did as much as I could before
my first Eclipse. I knew a lot about all
the historical ones, including the one that had stopped a war 2400 years ago. I've
seen many pictures of it, too. But, no way. It was all unique, a totally
unexpected thing. I felt so helpless, and at the same time so joyful; aware of
the fact of the great nature of our earth, once again.
Like so many other things
that we can not control in our lives, it was a sample of how many millions of
things we human beings can still not control with all our sophisticated
equipment, though we can measure it and do all other kinds of scientific
I loved my first Eclipse, and I am looking forward to the next one (in Turkey), in 2006!!
MELTEM (our Turkish Guide)
To find myself sitting on a hillside far above Tokat, waiting to experience my first total eclipse in a country I’d never dreamed of visiting, still amazes me. The eclipse experience was far more than 2 ½ minutes of totality. It was also the camaraderie, the generosity of Noel and other astronomers in sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with the rest of us, and the experience of sitting alone and suddenly hearing the "call to prayer" that wondrous, cacophonous sound – floating up from all the mosques in Tokat.
As for the eclipse itself, (what a reporter later called "the dance of the sun and moon"), I will always remember the red beads dancing around the diamond ring. To borrow from the poet/mystic, Rumi (changing his first word, "daylight", to the Turkish word for eclipse):
Tutulmasi, full of
small dancing particles
and the one great turning,
our souls are dancing with you,
without feet, they dance.
The eclipse to me is a purely personal matter. I like to sit off by myself and just enjoy the thrill of the moment when the moon finally fills the sun. This was my 3rd eclipse and they have all been special.
This was my third eclipse. Baja California, Mexico, the Caribbean and now Turkey. For me this particular celestial experience is equal parts anticipation, party and unwrapping the most exquisite gift.
The streamers and prominences were the best parts for me this time.
My third eclipse and still exciting. A great site was chosen with fine trees for shade for lunch and waiting. The diamond rings were the most spectacular that I have ever seen. I could almost imagine trying one on!
What a sight! - people crying, people cheering, fireworks going off in the distance. At one with the cosmos, if only briefly. I recalled a quotation from Gathe: "…if ever to the moment I should say, "Oh, stay!’ Thou art so fair!". This was such a moment.
This was my second eclipse, so I was more prepared for what to see. Excitement grew as the eclipse neared, but I was unprepared for the feelings that came over me as the darkness approached from the horizon. As people called out the approaching shadow, I felt my emotions rise. When the diamond ring appeared and Bailey’s Beads, everyone started cheering and yelling a so did I.
I was really choked with emotion and had tears in my eyes when the corona appeared. It brought back all of the emotions of the first eclipsed plus many more.
The corona didn’t quite compare with our last eclipse in 1998, but it was still wonderful. As Noel yelled that the eclipse was almost over and he wanted it to stay, I too felt it was ending to quickly. I did get a chance to look at the horizon and it was beautiful. A nice sunset like darkness completely around the horizon. I am even more hooked on eclipses now than before. I don’t think people who have not seen an eclipse will get too much from the pictures.
Not knowing what to expect, I was overwhelmed by the emotion of the experience. As I felt myself tearing up, it reminded me of the experience of witnessing childbirth for the first time. The awe and wonder of this natural and beautiful spectacle.
The beauty of the eclipse to me was in its movement. I’m told it’s the corona shooting outward and around…swirling bands of light, pure white…
I’m convinced that these experiences, whatever they are, that fill us with a deep sense of joy and wonder, are what we are meant to experience. It must be what connects us.
My first eclipse. I had literally no expectations. In fact, until 2-3 days before leaving for the trip, I didn’t even know eclipse-watching was part of the plan. What a spectacular "addition" to the itinerary. The very eerie lighting as the sunlight diminished, the sinuous, elegant strands of the corona, and most impressively for me, the brilliant colors – deep indigo of the sky, electric pink-reds of the prominences twinkling around the blackest of black and elbowing through the whitest of whites. A breathtakingly beautiful aesthetic experience. It truly inspired a sense of awe and wonderment, made me happy to be alive!
I was so excited once it became "THE ECLIPSE". It was so spectacular – even better than before! No longer an eclipse virgin, I was even more surprised at how beautiful this one was. I’m so glad I made the trip to see this as it was worth every penny I spent!
My first solar eclipse. It was truly spectacular! Even after all the preparation from the eclipse experts in our group, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Seeing the moon start to cover the sun – taking larger and larger bites – was a great opening act for the rest….Bailey’s beads, the diamond ring, and of course –totality. I was amazed by the colors – the bright pink prominences and the white, white light of the corona. What a blessing to witness such awe-inspiring natural wonders! It’s comforting that there are still thing better than the best special effects.
My first eclipse, and I really hope not the last. I had seen pictures, but had no idea what it would be like, or how stunningly beautiful it would be. Or what an emotional experience it is. I am so grateful to have been here in this knowledgeable and generous company. The eclipse and the day will be a treasure forever.
My first eclipse experience:
I thought that I was pretty well mentally prepared for what was coming: a special place to lay down - check; glasses on – check; camera ready – check; etc, etc. I really did want to cover all the bases of what to see, yet balance that with time just to watch and drink in the beauty and visual details.
I felt the rising excitement paralleling my own as second contact approached. "Here Comes The Shadow!" Howard yells – Yes! A quick snap off with my glasses – It was coming – looking a lot like a very dark Northwest rainstorm bearing down. "Bailey’s Beads!" someone yells – a quick snap back – but my glasses somehow were back over my eyes (!) – off they come and "Gasp!" there it is! Yes really – there it is! I am really seeing it!
Then, I realize how much I was so totally unprepared for the overwhelming personal emotional impact this very special moment was having on me. I was weeping – I couldn’t help it. The surprise at being so suddenly and deeply moved stunned me.
Yes, I did just stare. I tried to remember - to remember the shape and structure of the streaming outher corona, remember the intense ring of the inner corona. My weak eyes just couldn’t seem to detect anything red or moving – even though I really tried to locate prominences all around. I did notice that the inner edge of the corona was uneven and "notched" which, I guess, must have been where they were.
Then there was the black eye of the disk – blacker than anything else in the sky – just looking at me. Truly now I was seeing the dark side of the moon. Oh yes, I did sneak in a few other thing: three pictures with my telephoto point-and-shoot, even one including Venus (probably none will turn out), a 360 degree glance at the surrounding twilight – with even some glowing reflections offo low clouds, then a scramble to find my fallen glasses as Noel warns about the time left. "There She Goes" calls someone and I watch, stupefied, as that beautiful black disk gracefully steps aside in one gentle movement and a glorious second sunrise occurs over some distant, unnamed crater. A necklace of little points of light spread out around the circumference, "Bing" a brilliant, golden, diamond suddenly flashes, "snap" back go on the glasses, and a little orange bug grows into a curved worm before my eyes – which then becomes the thin left-facing crescent twin of the one I had been watching seemingly hours before (of course, all the subjective, three-dimensional effect is gone by now as the stately, celestial ballet ever increased that bright crescent). Whew! A time for Celebration and Thanks. P.S. Dave was going around shortly afterwards with his video asking for impressions. I gave rather a crude and stiff verbal then. I hope I can say it somewhat better here: What a beautiful event, at an incredible place, at a propitious time, specially shared with such wonderful people. Cok guzel. (Very Beautiful)
Your comments are wonderful. I have yet to meet a person who felt unmoved by the total eclipse. No matter how you explain and prepare, someone for the event, there is no way to fully understand it until you have witnessed one. I’m glad I got to see it with you all. See you in Africa on June 21, 2001!
As an eclipse virgin in 1991, I must admit that the whole experience completely overwhelmed me. Now, standing at my third eclipse, with many of those same people around me, I felt prepared. Twilight, the diamond ring, people’s reactions, the uniqueness of the corona, Meli’s tearful reaction and my own…once again, overwhelmed!
As a professional astronomer, and a veteran eclipse chaser, I feel obliged to record all my impressions in precise scientific detail. But hey, I’m only human, and as the town of Tokat way below us was plunged into darkness, I got the same chill up my spine as I did back in Baja in ’91 at my very first eclipse. Although this was my shortest ever eclipse, it was probably th4e most spectacular of all. The half-dozen crimson prominences, the compact spokey "porcupine" corona, and the diamond ring at ingress and egress were dazzling. In a word, it was "cute".
Two Journeys: Day turned to night, the sun replaced by a black hole in the sky, the exquisite beauty of the corona, all these effects produced for me simultaneous feelings of awe, excitement, and reverence. The eclipse was all that I had hoped for. The visit to the Hittite temple the same day was an unexpected zenith. Seeing the stone-carved sky god and watching the same stars seen by the Hittites some four thousand years ago put me in a reflective mood. Two journeys brought us to Tokat. One was the obvious journey of planes and trains that brought us together at a precise place and time. The other journey was more abstract but just a real. It is the journey of understanding that began with ancient sky watchers who noticed that a few stars moved oddly. The odd ones proved to be the key to understanding, calculation and prediction. A long and difficult journey but one that made our physical travels possible. The two journeys intersected for me over Tokat at 11:31 UT, August 11, 1999. I give thanks to all the ancient sky watchers who made it possible. Thank you Hittite priests, thank you Aristarchus, Thales, and Hipparchus. Thank you for your good and difficult work Ptolemy, Tycho and Flamsteed. Thanks equally to all unnamed and unknown sky watchers.
Eclipse Reflections from Idaho, Jo Hower
I find I can't write about the eclipse without including the the night visit to the Hittite temple; one with out the other diminishes each. The eclipse, only my third, was a gem, a distillation of what it's supposed to be when your back is planted on stone and your full attention is on the sun and moon. Two minutes of dazzling changes seemed only a tease but I can picture vividly those changes, colors and brilliant diamond ring as if yesterday.
Finishing the day warmed by Tokat wine, or backs against Meli's kilims and our eyes scanning the night sky, reaffirmed our connection to this universe in ways the sky god never imagined. Can we ever top this? I am willing to try in 06.
I would like to thank Noel for reminding us to do as much visual observing as possible. Helen and I had set up with everyone else and put out our eclipse flag and began observing the series of contacts. I had my video camera going nicely and lots of people (mostly locals) came to look at the monitor. As the shadow came across the valley I began to get very excited. I had only been to the last eclipse in the Caribbean and the shadow had acted differently. It was like a huge visible wind or storm bearing down on us at great speed, yet it had no physical component like a storm.I looked up to see the diamond ring and the beads and imprinted all I saw firmly in my mind. I looked down for a second to see how the video was doing and was horrified to see +nothing+ on the monitor. After a few moments of fussing, I was unable to recover a picture and muttered something and decided to give up on it. I went back to looking at the eclipse and gave up on the video. I saw the whole thing. It was different than the other eclipse and endlessly interesting. All too quickly the moon moved off of the sun and seemed to accelerate away from the experience. It is so weird to look directly at the thing the eyes fear the most and instead of being blinded, to be transported into another realm. It is like an altered universe for those few moments. Of course, what happened to the video was that I forgot to take off the filter. I wasn't too upset, since if I had taken it off, I probably would have fussed too much with the camera.
Doug Millar and Helen Mahoney
For me the eclipse behaved as expected with two exceptions. The corona streamers were far more contrasty than I have seen before, or seen in photographs. The second surprise was that most streamers were straight but the 11 o’clock position streamers were curved clockwise. We still have a lot to learn! Always enjoyable.
We demonstrated as have all before us, the universal response of excitement at the experience of a total solar eclipse. Ant this begs the question of why we respond so, and why we cross mountains and oceans to experience again what cannot be fully communicated by word or picture. Why is it we are so distracted by the sight, we fail to do what was planned and practiced for those few moments? The why is, of course, subjective and individual. However, I think it has something profoundly to do with our humanity! Our intuitive appreciation of order in the universe beyond understanding and yet somehow within our grasp. The revelation of the corona is a metaphor for revelation of the Great Mystery of the universe and ourselves.
Also, see "Thirty Magic Hours in Turkey"
My first eclipse was seen in Richland, Washington in 1979. I remember the roofers next door cheering, dogs barking, and light going on at totality.
But the hill in Tokat was a different experience. Here it was quiet and I enjoyed the 360 degree purple-pink horizon. I was thrilled as the diamond ring flashed more brilliantly than any gem, and at least 6 prominences presented themselves. But the best gift of all was the enormous corona with such long tendrils of light. Those at 11:00 even curved to the right. I was awed, and grateful to share such a wonderful experience with new friends and enthusiasts.
My fourth eclipse. There is a tendency to compare them, but they all have commonalties. First is the adventure of getting to that lucky spot of land where the very narrow shadow will race by. The planning, dreaming and finally the journey. It was amazing just to see all our group, from many corners of the world, converge at the same place in Istanbul at 5:00 PM on August 7, 1999 – excited and ready for the journey. So many familiar faces that hadn’t made contact for so long. And the new faces that will be so familiar on future trips.
In the days just preceding the eclipse, there is the anticipation. Will we find a good site? Will it be cloudy? Will we have to try and outrun the clouds, or will we just have to resign ourselves to stand helplessly under a cloudy sky and watch the day turn to night? The tips from the eclipse pros. The questions from the eclipse virgins. It all builds to a crescendo on the day we awake and say "What day is it? ECLIPSE DAY!" But the day starts out so normal. The sky looks the same as yesterday. Is this the right day? Is this the right place? Later, Meltem related a comment she heard from one of the residents of Tokat on the morning of the eclipse – "What if the eclipse doesn’t happen? We have all these visitors who have come to see it!" And then there is first contact. We believe in science, but it’s really comforting to see the moon’s first bite from the sun. The camaraderie during the hour or so before the totality is great. I love to wander around and see how others are preparing for the event. But the reactions of others during the totality are priceless. I keep wondering – if you see a total solar eclipse, and there is no one to share it with, did it happen at all?