kwilson

Eclipse Safari
2001-06-21 21:13:10 (UTC)

TOTALITY!!!!!

We arose early on eclipse day. Our buses were scheduled to
leave the hotel at 9 a.m., but we had to make sure that we
had everything ready and this was no day to be late.

We left a little after 9 on what should have been a 45 min.
trip to Peter Vicker's farm about 30 miles north of Lusaka,
just outside the town of Chimbasa and on the center line of
the eclipse. There about 3 acres of farm land had been
cleared for about 200 of us eclipse chasers to view the
event. Unfortunately, the old bus that was supplied to our
tour guide wasn't in very great shape. We soon found that
it could barely get up even the lowest grades. Once we had
to stop to buy water for the overheating radiator. At one
point manyof the passengers got off the bus to lighten the
load so that the bus could make it up the last hill. All
the while other eclipse buses that left after ours passed
us up and the trip took twice as long as planned.
Fortunately we made it to the farm with time to spare and a
few more gray hairs for the passengers and the tour
operator.

The eclipse started right on schedule and as the clock
ticked towards second contact (the start of totality) the
crowd grew quiet. Soon daylight took on an strange
character. Shadows remained sharp but the brightness of
daylight was lowered. The eye compensates but the brain
knows that someting is odd - the pupils should not be so
wide in broad daylight.

As we neared second contact, birds returned to their nests
and the sky darkened to a deep twilight. The spectacular
Diamond Ring effect signaled the begining of totality and
revealed a huge crimson prominence glowing on the sun's
limb. Soon the sun's corona glowed in all its glory with
many streamers with a great deal of structure plainly
visible. Ooohs and ahhs erupted throughout the crowd. We
took many pictures and videos. I don't know how many of my
pictures will turn out, but the video looks preety good, at
least what I can see on the B&W camera viewfinder.

All in all it was a fantastic, unforgetable experience! We
converted many 'eclipse virgins', as first time viewers of
total solar eclipses are often called, into dedicated
eclipse chasers today!

Tommorrow we leave bright and early for long flights home.
Betty and I will stop over in England for a few days and
see an old friend Roger Hutchins in Oxford before returning
to Richmond. If my photos turn out, I'll post some of the
good ones on the Science Museum web site after I get back
home.

So long for now.

Ken Wilson