Books by Philip S. Harrington
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Report on the Eclipse, from Phil Harrington
The February 26th eclipse in Aruba was fantastic! A group of 26 of us observed the eclipse from the beach in front of the Aruba Radisson, where we were staying. The hotel did a terrific job helping us set up on the beach. And we had quite a group of passersby stop in for a view. Ed Faits, one of the members in my group, used his Astroscan to project the partially eclipsed sun onto a screen for all to view while the rest of us clicked photos through our scopes.
What a magnificent corona!! Beautiful streamer structure, outstanding coronal brushes, and a couple of brilliantly red prominences! I can still close my eyes and see it as if I were looking at it right now! Both the ingress and egress diamond rings seemed to last forever! Just beautiful!! I could easily see corona at least 15 seconds before and after 2nd and 3rd contact, much longer than the July 91 eclipse if memory serves me.
I recorded a reading of 96 F at 1st contact, 79 F at totality, then back to 90 F at last contact. That swing is a little misleading, however, since the thermometer was in direct sun at first, but then went into shadow afterwards. Still, an 11 F temp swing might not be too far from the truth.
Jupiter and Venus shone brilliantly during totality. I was especially impressed by Jupiter, which was near solar conjunction just a few degrees south of the Sun! A wonderful naked-eye sight. Others in my group tell me they also saw Mars and Mercury, though I must admit that I missed them (actually, I forgot all about them <g>).
Nighttime observing on Aruba was, let's say, "interesting." Nothing like standing out in 40+ mph winds on top of a hill!! We went out both Friday and Saturday nights with mized success. Fast moving clouds did us in on Friday, while Saturday was rather hazy. Still, we had terrific views of Eta Carinae and its myriad of attending open clusters, Omega Centauri, Centaurus A, and even the Tarantula Nebula (declination -70^!) from a spot near the southern tip of the island. Funny, but Saturday night, we set up right under a lighthouse that marks the southern tip of the island. I never thought that a lighthouse would be a good place to observe from, but sure enough, the beam was well shielded enough to let us see 6th mag naked eye towards the south. North and west were terrible because of lighting from the *huge* Coastal oil refinery and Aruba prison, but we weren't there to observe Cassiopeia! <g>
All in all, a terrific trip and a wonderful eclipse!
Report on the Eclipse, from Ed Faits, Southwick, MA:
Right after 1st contact I set up a little projection with my Astroscan and a cardboard box. Within moments I had a crowd of a dozen or so folks around me, mostly vacationers who just happened to be there for the eclipse. A beautiful woman was sunbathing topless about 15 yards away from where we were set up (we set up before she did!)... and EVERYONE was ignoring the woman and looking at the projected image of the partial eclipse!
This crowd slowly grew around my scope as we moved toward totality, by totality we had picked up a crowd of about 30 people.
Totality just blew me away! I've seen pictures and videos of total eclipses, and have read about them since I was a kid. I've even seen an annular eclipse and twice seen partials that were better than 90%... none of that prepared me for the RAW EMOTION of the event.
A sunny day on the beach SUDDENLY became an other-worldly experience, a black hole in the sky covered what had been the sun. An eruption of a strange and beautiful pearly light surrounded the black hole. No wonder ancients were terrified. I knew the science behind the event and I was still shaking so much I couldn't hold my binoculars steady.
After the eclipse Phil said the temperature had dropped by 17 degrees F, I replied that my IQ must have dropped by that much during totality... Phil answered that his blood pressure went up by at least that amount. Just in time I remembered to turn on the video camera, and I'm still not sure if I remembered to point the still camera at the sun. I'll find out when I get the slides back next week.
The three minutes just flew by, it seemed like just a few seconds.
Cathy [Ed's wife] isn't all that interested in astronomy, but she was moved by how beautiful the event was. Just after totality ended she was already asking about France in August '99.