Reflections: My First Total Solar Eclipse
I know an intelligent yet cynical woman who, with very low expectations, traveled to Egypt in 2006 to see a full solar eclipse. In spite of herself, she was struck by the experience and moved.
In July of 2008, I—who always have very high expectations and try (ineffectively) to cultivate a cynical streak—traveled to western China (Weizixia in Xinjiang Province, to be precise) with Dr. Ed Krupp, Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, to view my first solar eclipse.
To watch the shadows form on the ground and slide up the sides of the low mountains that ringed us as the sun neared totality was to fall under a spell. The air was still and the allure and energy of the moment were inescapable.
There are many aspects to a total eclipse. As a novice viewer, I won’t try to name and describe them all, but the diamond ring, the bright flash of light that, in this case, arrived just before totality was a delight—fleeting, but memorable. Afterwards, observers reacted in various ways; some were elated, some overcome by emotion. For a moment I felt as though I had been both of this world and out of this world.
The rare individual is satiated with one solar eclipse. More often, though, another eclipse becomes a compelling reason to travel, to seek out and witness another singular and mesmerizing event—each as different as a fingerprint.
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