I remember my first solar eclipse when I was quite young. I was in elementary school and it was a big deal. I remember our teachers talking about it for days ahead of time and we all made little DIY devices (like pinholes through cardboard) to look at it. It happened during school hours and I remembered us kids pressed up against the giant plate glass windows in school, our papers and cardboard boxes held out in front of us, cheering as the sun slowly got covered up by the moon, amazed by the coolness of it all.
I was also jealous when last year all my friends in America got to see the solar eclipse and I didn’t. (And I laughed with the rest of the world as dumb Trump kept looking directly into the sun without glasses. Even as an elementary school student I knew it was a stupid thing to do, and yet the president didn’t?!)
But finally, yesterday June 21st, it was MY turn to see a solar eclipse. And I didn’t have just a glimpse, but the best seats in town. The perfect viewing place was Xiamen which would have the best view of the full solar eclipse, while other parts of China only got a partial.
My friend got us all glasses, and while there wasn’t the same sort of excited buildup of my youth, it was still pretty cool. While downtown Xiamen was packed with spectators and photographers, my school is still empty of students so a few of us foreign teachers went to the empty basketball court area (no trees to block our view) to watch the eclipse. Xiamen is the best! Brag, brag, brag.
I should mention the “real-feel” temp was about 108 degrees F so I didn’t want to hang around outside for very long. As soon as I stepped outside I knew something was up. If I looked into the sky, the sun seemed the same as normal (too bright to see details) but the world was covered in a sort of weird muted light. Like the eye of a hurricane or something. It was an eerie kind of darkness and even tricked some of the birds to begin their evening calls, even though it was only 4pm.
I don’t have a fancy camera, but I held up my glasses in front of my iphone lens and tried to take a few pics. I couldn’t really see what what happening, and what I was taking pics of (’cause even mostly eclipsed that sun is still bright!) but I ended up with some accidentally cool pics.
We almost lost out on the viewing because of clouds, but luckily they blew away just long enough during the “Ring of Fire” phase so we could see it.
I don’t know of an eclipse portends anything supernatural like ancient people used to believe. But for all the years to have a eclipse I feel like 2020 is a good one. I mean, it’s such a mess of a year, why not throw in some eclipses and give everyone some more superstition to believe!
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