The Eclipse Journal of Paul Doherty
The Eclipse.

Projections of the sun began to show the bite taken out of the circular disk of the sun. The Explainer's pinholes, Cheri's binoculars, Paul's pin-mirrors, and best of all Larry's two camera/telescope system. Cheri and Larry showed people the edge of the moon move toward and cover sunspots.

Pinholes mades by leaves project partial eclipse images onto the sidewalk in Amasya.

I was the Exploratorium's scientist on the spot, ready to go on the air live to the Exploratorium and the world. The first thing I heard from the Exploratorium over the micro-acoustic monitor that Larry had inserted into my ear canal was the absolutely best thing I could have heard: Linda Shore's laugh. She and Ron were broadcasting live from the Phyllis Wattis Webcast studio in the Exploratorium.

They were waiting for our images to arrive. We were sending, would the images actually make it through three satellite relays, through the web and to the Exploratorium?

Yes they did. Everyone at Amasya smiled ear to ear.

Zane welcomed the crowd at the Exploratorium and introduced the crowd in Amasya who waved and shouted "merhaba." I introduced the history of the town and the setting. Zane introduced our staff in Amasya and the equipment. I narrated the 4 minute video tour of Amasya put together by Hrappa the day before. Then we were done for a while. The Exploratorium kept our video feed of the moon covering the sun, with an occasional cloud sliding in front of the eclipse just to keep us all excited. Linda and Ron explained and modeled eclipses with help from the audience.

I gave a couple of quick interviews to STAR TV network and several Journalists. Then we went back on the air to answer questions. One person wanted to know about shadow bands and I promised to look for them.

Totality approached, the sky looked clear. 4 minutes to go and no shadow bands. Then with 1 minute to go. Larry pointed to the ground, it was alive with motion. Shadows were creeping across the ground of the plaza. The shadows were very obvious the size of large sausages rolling along the ground in the same direction the clouds were moving, to the northeast. It was the first time I had seen them and they were amazing.

Then a shout went up from the crowd. A bright diamond ring had appeared in the sky. The entire ring around the sun was brightly visible. After a few seconds the diamond ring blinked out and with no bailey's beads totality ruled.


The corona reached out in a glowing disk with tentacles. The chromosphere was bright with red prominences. Larry's telescopic view showed a detached prominence a red flame leaping out of the sun. It was a stunning eclipse.

Silence ruled the crowd as they gazed in awe. It was actually pretty bright. The sky close to us was still blue. Just as predicted for this eclipse, the moon's shadow was small, light was scattered into the eclipse shadow making it bright.

The crowd roared again. The diamond ring had returned. Totality was over.

It was a beautiful solar eclipse. The most interesting for the shape of the corona and the brightness and colors in the chromosphere that I had ever seen. It reminded me why each and every eclipse is a unique experience.

To see images of the eclipse visit the Exploratorium's eclipse site.

The crew jumped around and gave each other high fives, the gear had worked, our team had worked, we had brought the images of a spectacular eclipse to the Exploratorium and the world. We felt great.

But then our new friends from Amasya had to leave to go home. We had grown together as a team in two short days and we hated to leave them. But They held out a hope of one more meeting, once we were done with the clean-up, would we come to a music recital?

Yes we would!

Visit the Exploratorium web pages for more information on eclipses:

Go to the next story


Links to other eclipse stories:

Eclipse Disaster, the story of a partial solar eclipse in the Exploratorium's front yard.

Going Up? Get Fit! Adapting to high altitude for the eclipse in Chile.


Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 1999

27 July 99