Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Total Experience Eclipse

God’s blessings shined on us today as there was not a cloud in the sky this morning. The partial eclipse began around 8 am and was only viewable with the special dark glasses which turned the sun into a dark orange orb on a black background that was gradually eaten away. It progressively got cooler in the sun and a little darker until right on time at 9:15 am the total eclipse started and we could look at the sun without our special glasses and see the corona. (I wonder how much brain and computer power it took to calculate the exact time of the eclipse for every point in the path from Brazil to Mongolia?) We could see one star but it was still light enough to walk around. It was like dusk – not midnight. Then after 3 minutes it was as if someone flipped on a light switch as about 1% of the sun peeked out from behind the moon and you needed your special glasses again to look at the sun. The whole process made our planet’s place in the solar system very tangible.

The Togolese national government declared a half day holiday today and everything was closed up tight this morning. The roads normally teeming with people were empty. No school and no work. Everyone was at home with their family behind closed doors as the media had educated folks to use the special glasses or stay inside and not look at the sun. Everyone we talked to yesterday to was too afraid to trust the glasses and they were staying inside. About half an hour after the total eclipse the neighborhood boys showed up to use our glasses. It was a very quiet morning near our house except for the roosters and guinea hens crowing again after the eclipse. For us, it was most likely a special once in a lifetime experience.

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