exploratorium eclipse dispatches
June 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
click for live webcast June 21 2001  
eclipse montage

The day is here. We wake to sunny clear morning, here in the remote reaches of the Lower Zambezi River. Eclipse chaser's luck is with us. We run through a few quick rehearsals and grab a nervous lunch. Then it's time. The satellite engineers tell us that the signal is clear. We're ready to broadcast.

The eclipse has already begun. Looking through our special shades, we see a thin sliver of the sun go black, as the moon begins to slide in. When we start our show, the moon has covered nearly half of the sun.
White light Corona

Streamers of the sun's corona trail out into space, white gossamer threads of energy. All of us are cheering without realizing it-- the crew, the Zambian staff and the bush guides. We're transported. Without moving, we've arrived in a strange underwater world that resembles our old one, but fey and strange. The mountains of the Zambezi escarpment glow with the brilliant reds and purples of a false sunset-- and above them, the ring of silver fire burns. It's almost painful to see-- we've come thousands of miles to broadcast images of this eclipse to the world, and our images are beautiful, yet, looking up at the sky, we know somehow that our images can never capture the power and beauty of this eclipse.

strange light engulfs us

Strange light engulfs us moments before totality.


And as the show goes on, the light of day begins to wane. We watch. As the sun wanes, we enter an eerie world, where nothing looks right-- our faces, the trees around us, the birds flying past, the swift river, all shine with a pale silver glow, and details stand out in sharp relief. It's not like dusk at all-- the sunlight is slowly weakening, becoming watery and thin, like a stream of water from a tap that's slowly being turned off.

Suddenly, waves of light and shadow begin to wash over the ground--- undulations of light called shadow bands, cast by light passing through the earth's atmosphere, like the ripples of light at the bottom of a swimming pool.

unique view of eclipse

A long exposure and a shaky hand, creates this unique view of totality.




Back to Solar Eclipse: Stories from the Path of Totality

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