Eclipse Day Part 4:
To assist me to view the eclipse, I used an app called “Solar Eclipse Timer”. This app gave voice alerts during the eclipse. As the totality approached, the app announced “10 minutes to totality. Observe temperature change. Observe changes in animal behavior”.
By this time, the temperature had fallen quite a bit. The light was reducing. Through the eclipse glass, the sun was a thin crescent.
Suddenly we spotted a lone bird flying towards its nest. I thought it could be a coincidence. Then three birds flew in the same direction. Then, another 20 of them flew in the same direction. This was no coincidence. They were definitely going back to their nests thinking it’s nightfall. I tried to click a pic, but I had forgotten to change the exposure settings of the camera. The chirping sounds of the crickets grew higher. The automatic lamps on the road side turned on.
The app announced “3 minutes to totality. Observe shadow bands”. We quickly laid out a white towel on the grass to observe shadow bands. We dint see anything. Are shadow bands a myth? An English astronomer of 19th century wrote in his diary “As the totality approached, a strange fluctuation of light was seen upon the walls and the ground, so striking that in some places children ran after it and tried to catch it with their hands”.
Some historical references describe it as “thousands of snakes moving on the ground”.
The reason for shadow bands is not well known. The simplest explanation is that they are produced due to the atmospheric turbulence.
60 seconds to totality. The excitement was building. Suddenly, we see the shadow bands. On the white towel, they looked like moving waves of light/shadow. It looked like the light patterns you see on a swimming pool floor. Time to look up at the sky. We saw Venus shining high in the west sky. Through the glasses, the thin crescent of the sun was vanishing.
10 seconds to totality. Remove the solar filter from the camera. Glasses off. Behold the diamond ring. The corona was all around the sun. Only a tiny part of the sun’s disk was visible at the edge creating the “diamond ring effect”. Within seconds, the diamond ring broke into multiple “bailey’s beads”, then the pink Chromosphere was visible and then, all of a sudden, it was dark. The transition from light to dark was so sudden, it was surprising…
Jupiter, Venus, Regulus were easily visible. It was (approximately) as dark as 30 minutes after sunset. The sky was light grey. In the middle of all these, there it was, this unbelievable thing in the sky. A perfect black circle in the sky surrounded by the magnificent corona. As the eye adjusted to the darkness of the sky, the corona seemed to grow bigger. I quickly clicked a few pics and looked at the corona through the lens to get a magnified view. The flares around the sun were visible. The coronal structures were also visible. Back to naked eye. I was really surprised at how big the corona was to the naked eye.
Time was running out. The app urged me to look at the horizon. The horizon was orangish all around as if the sun had set all around us. Some more birds were still flying back home. The crickets were chirping in unison.
Back to the sun. The corona was magnificent. It had three prongs. The longest prong appeared to extend up to 3 solar diameters. And in no time, the totality came to an end. Click click click. A few more pics as the diamond ring emerged. The C3 diamond ring was quite amazing. The sun looked like a ring of molten metal. Within no time, it was day again. Glasses on. Lens Filters on… And the show was over…
As I came back to my senses, I realized that the camera that was taking the video had fallen down… I had forgotten to click wide angle images and so on… But I’m happy that I enjoyed the event to the fullest and have a distinct memory of every moment. Unlike the 2010 annular eclipse, where I was so busy photographing, that I don’t even remember seeing the annular phase…
Some people may question my decision to remove the glasses before the start of totality (during diamond ring phase). After all, we see so many warnings about not to look directly at the sun without proper protection. Although those concerns are valid, I believe a short exposure to the sun does not affect vision. Refer to this paper http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/…/170819-AAS-Chou-Solar….