101 Things To Do*

* before I die

Science and Nature

Witness a Total Eclipse of the Sun

This is another one of the items on my bucket list that I debated whether or not to mark as completed.  Technically, I didn't actually see the eclipse...  but, I'm getting ahead of my story.  First, I want to point out that I'm in the above photo on the front page of the local paper - I'm on the left behind the lady with the big hair who is shielding her eyes.

I timed my visit to Australia so I'd be able to see the solar eclipse in Ceduna, South Australia that would occur at 7:40pm on December 4, 2002.  Ceduna is a small city on the southern coast about 185 miles (300km) west of Adelaide.  It turned out to be a rather expensive trip, what with the chartered bus from Adelaide to Ceduna and back, and the over-priced accommodations in the "tent city" set up just outside the city-proper.

After a ten-hour bus ride, we arrived in the evening on December 3rd - then had all day on the 4th to explore the town of Ceduna, walk the beach, and find other activities to occupy our time.  Finally, at around 6:00pm, we all gathered at the viewing area situated above cliffs overlooking a beach five minutes from our campsite.  There were several hundred enthusiasts from the tent city.  In town, were a few thousand more, and many others were scattered around in caravan parks and additional tent cities.

You could feel the excitement in the air as the time moved ever so slowly toward first contact at 6:40p.  Then the anticipation of the gathered throng built over the next hour as we waited for totality.  Apprehension was also evident as a high layer of clouds started blowing in from the sea on a brisk wind.

Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for came - and so did an annoying little cloud.  Little, yes - yet it was certainly big enough to hide the sun just as the moon completed its coverage.

And the sun was only obscured slightly longer than the duration of totality.  But the worse part was that those who were watching from town got a clear view of the entire event - that's how small the cloud was.  In fact, if we had moved just 100 meters north, we would have been able to see it as well.

But I must admit that, if I had to settle only for photos of a cloud - it was a rather nice cloud, as you can see...

So, I have to put this one down as the best solar eclipse I've ever (almost) seen.