China Total Solar Eclipse Expedition 2009 – Solar Eclipse
On the morning of the E-Day sun rose behind clouds. The air was damp and foggy. The worst combination for the observations since during totality temperature drops by couple of degrees so even on clear day it may trigger precipitation. Well, we could not do much about it. And since there were still couple of hours left I went to visit Fayu Si temple – or rather complex of dozens (according to guide 200) temples and pavilions sprawled up a hill. At it’s foot koi fish painted strange symbols in a pond. Behind bridge and a gate I passed relief sculpture depicting nine dragons, and standing next to it couple meter high tall censers. Crowd of faithful believers were praying to their gods in this sanctuary set apart in the middle of communist China. As for me I kept climbing higher within maze of stairs, gates and pavilions housing sculptures of Buddhist deities.
Finally the time of eclipse was drawing near. Even if the cloud cover was close to 99%. But I had to get to the beach before first contact between Sun and the shadow of the Moon. I set up my equipment and stated hunting the diminishing Sun in holes between clouds. Second contact and Baily’s Pearls as well as diamond ring were totally obscured by clouds. But it still got dark as if sudden night was upon us. Street lamps turned on. Nature stood still while temperature dropped by 3ºC. Fortunately there were gaps between clouds and now and again the solar corona, though partially obscure by thin clouds, would be visible. Six minutes later the show was over. And even though it was far from ideal, we later learned that we were lucky few that did actually see any of it. In Shanghai, were there were over million tourists who came to see eclipsed sun, it was pouring. Just as along whole path of totality with exception of couple spots in India, and couple more out in the Pacific.