Friday, August 1, 2008

August 1, 2008 The Total Eclipse Day

The Total Eclipse Day
August 1, 2008 
Today we came home to supervise the installation of our screens (yahoo) and watch the total eclipse of the sun, the first in Siberia's recorded history.

The total eclipse will have a width of about 250 km and will cross Western Siberia from the north to the south, then will cross the Altai Mountains and then regions of China and Mongolia. The maximum eclipse will be at 10:21:08 UT, which is about 5:47 in Novosibirsk, when the maximum time of the total phase will last just under 2:20 min in Novosibirsk region.


For a full discussion of the eclipse phenomenon go to http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=7225. It is a great site. One of their diagrams is at right showing the path of the eclipse.
The city is preparing to host thousands of tourists and organizing some free areas for watching the eclipse. About 100-150 telescopes will be set around the city. President Mickelsen was out today and saw many people selling "Solar Eclipse Glasses". The first he saw in the morning were 4000 rubles, then at noon they were 2000 rubles, and by 3:00 they were 400 rubles. I'll bet they get real cheep about 7 pm.

The picture above at top left was taken just as it was starting to darken. The next is about 20 seconds later. At 5:45 it was starting to get a little twilight. The sun is behind a small cloud which makes it easier to see it without the "eclipse glasses" but I have set a paper with a hole to project the shadow on the window sill and it is working well.

The light outside is now totally twilight. In 20 seconds it was dusk. In another 20 seconds it was totally blocked and you could see the black center of the solar disk as it was blocked by the moon. The picture at the right is exactly what it looked like; a black disk surrounded by fire. The total eclipse lasted about 2 1/2 minutes and just as suddenly it began to get dawn, then it was full daylight again.

What an amazing experience. We have just seen something that only a handful of people have seen ever in history. Traffic stopped in our street with headlights on and people got out to look. One of the workers on the building across the street got on the roof with his welding hood to watch it. Others shot off skyrockets (they love fireworks here) just as the eclipse was total.

The last series of pictures were shot from our north-facing windows that look out on the street. They show the total, waning, and almost fully completed fazes but are shot through the newly installed screens so they are a little grainy. What an experience. We commented to each other what a powerful experience it must have been for early man to see this and wonder if life was over; if this was the end of his existence. Even for us it was a bit unnerving to see this black disk covering the sun and seeing people's reaction all around you. Even the trains stopped.

We have a family coming for dinner (mom, 20ish daughter, and 13 yr old son) with the missionaries to challenge the son for baptism. The mom's a member I think. Anyway, we will have lots to talk about and getting 7 around our table will be the miracle of the week.

What a country and what a time to be here.
DS

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Wow, Uncle Doug. Those pictures are amazing. I especially like the one of the guy on the roof. :) I can see where Shannon gets her photography eye.