22 July 2009


speaking of things solar, the longest-lasting total solar eclipse of the 21st century took place today in parts of asia and the pacific ocean -- check out the very cool moving graphic.

i was privileged to view the eclipse which transitted across portions of the northwestern u.s. and into canada in february 1979. the visual effects were beyond stunning -- they were hallucinogenic. at onset, you see a curtain of darkness sweeping toward you at 1000 mph (the approximate rotational speed of the earth), and once you're in the shadow, the landscape is surreal, lit in dim salmon tints while all around the horizon the atmosphere remains daylit. wierd undulations of light seem to rise from the ground. as totality nears, you notice the diamond ring effect as the sun's remaining rays peek between the mountains on the moon. during totality, you can safely view the sun's corona and solar prominences arcing past the moon's edge. wildlife runs in confusion, dogs howl, and people cheer. eventually, the chain of effects is reversed as the moon's shadow passes. i experienced a natural high for hours afterward.

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