The Moon was fighting the Sun

By Fabio

The magic has happened again: deep, tongue-tying darkness in the middle of a sunny day.

It was really cold: my hands started freezing as soon as I took off my gloves to capture this day in some pictures. FADS5406

Adventalen, March 20, 2015. Credit: Fabio Del Sordo / GalileoMobile

The light began changing gradually, from ten in the morning onwards, turning the surrounding mountains from white into a sort of yellow mixed with red.

A hot-air balloon was sailing the south-eastern blue sky, where a sundog was shining. Then it moved towards the Sun, perhaps trying to help the Moon to obscure our star. But this traveler of the air didn’t dare to interfere with the fight, and thus passed below the Sun, kept moving south, and finally disappeared behind the ridges of arctic mountains. FADS5405

A hot-air balloon crossing the sky near a sundog. Credit: Fabio Del Sordo / GalileoMobile

I was checking the solar disk through my solar-filter glasses, taken at UNIS yesterday morning. The Moon was about to win the fight with the Sun, which did surrender, with a final breath, some minutes past eleven. FADS5423

The Moon passing between me and the Sun. Credit: Fabio Del Sordo / GalileoMobile

The whole valley suddenly turned into an unknown place, a landscape of one of the extraterrestrial lands that humans will, one day, discover, touch, explore. FADS5430

The sky during the totality of the solar eclipse On the left, Venus is visible. Credit: Fabio Del Sordo / GalileoMobile

Then, the magic: our star took back its place in the terrestrial sky, the Moon was convinced to give up the fight.

The Sun irradiated the humans with its light and love. One can entirely understand them only after a storm of darkness. FADS5432

After some minutes of darkness the Sun is back and keeps shining in the sky. Credit: Fabio Del Sordo / GalileoMobile

You don’t need fancy equipment to observe a solar eclipse!

by Jorge

It’s been almost ten years since the last time I observed a solar eclipse. Sadly, on the place I lived back then, La Laguna in Tenerife, it was only a partial eclipse. I had no better luck this time.

Nowadays, I live in small town of France called Besançon. Apart from good wine and cheese there is an old observatory where they organized a public observation of the partical eclipse this morning.

Tons of people observing the solar eclipse in Besançon, France. Credit: GalileoMobile

Tons of people observing the solar eclipse in Besançon, France. Credit: GalileoMobile

Hundreds of people gathered around the Besançon Observatory to observe it, including students with their teachers.

Solar Eclipse projection. Credit: GalileoMobile

Solar Eclipse projection. Credit: GalileoMobile

Some people brought their own telescopes, binoculars or specials glasses, all with the appropriate filters, to safely look at the Sun. There was even a man taking pictures with a webcam connected to a laptop!

Taking pictures of the solar eclipse. Credit: GalileoMobile

Taking pictures of the solar eclipse. Credit: GalileoMobile

People who didn’t have special filters just made a projection of the Sun with a small telescope on cardboards. That is what we do during the GalileoMobile activities to safely observe the Sun. “There is a small black dot on the surface of the Sun”, I heard. “That is a sunspot, a region of the Sun’s surface that is colder and therefore appears darker”, a teacher replied. “Wooow”, the students yelled.

But you don’t need fancy equipment to observe the eclipse. People were using his hands or carving holes in boxes to make a pinhole camera to project the image of the Sun onto papers. You can do the same with the leaves on the trees but good luck to find any leaf on trees at the end of winter in France!

Kids using slotted spoons to observe the solar eclipse. Credit: GalileoMobile

Kids using slotted spoons to observe the solar eclipse. Credit: GalileoMobile

My favourite method was the one used by a bunch of kids that were holding slotted spoons in one hand and a paper on the other one to observe the eclipse. Next time I won’t forget my pasta strainer!

I spent most time observing people though. Just like Amelie liked to observed people when they were watching movies at the cinema, I liked to see the reactions of people when they look through a telescope. Try it, it’s great!

Well, at the end it was fine observing the partial eclipse, at least we got a smile from the Sun. Not bad for the International Day of Happiness!

Next time, my pasta strainer and I, will travel anywhere in the world to see a total eclipse. I wish I were in Svalbard islands with my friend Fabio today!

The day before the eclipse

Galileonaut Fabio travels north to chase a solar eclipse.

By Fabio

It is a sunny day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard Archipelago, the day before the spring equinox.
Many people came here with the hope of observing the Moon passing between them and the Sun, transforming two and a half minutes of a normal day in a surrealistic night.

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The Sun shows its full disk at 11.10 am on March 19, 2015. Credits: GalileoMobile / Fabio Del Sordo

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Longyearbyen, a village of about 2000 people. Credits: GalileoMobile / Fabio Del Sordo

Svalbard islands are located far beyond the polar circle, in the middle between the Barents Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The few inhabitants of this land have a quite unique relation with the Sun, a star which never shows up during many months in the winter, from October till February, and which is always present in the sky from April until August. Between February and April, instead, the length of the daytime changes rapidly, from zero up to 24 hours.
Now that I am here I can see and live this ongoing change, and every day is approximately one hour longer than the previous.
Tomorrow, suddenly, daytime will have a sort of hiccup and sunlight will shut down for some minutes.

Today I took a walk to Adventalen, a valley just in front of Longyearbyen, the place where tomorrow I will wait the arrival, and the departure, of the shadow of the Moon. It is a snow-covered tundra surrounded by mountains on all its sides but one, washed by the water of Adventfjorden, a tiny ramification of the Atlantic ocean.

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Adventalen: tomorrow many people will wait here the arrival of the eclipse.  Credits: GalileoMobile / Fabio Del Sordo

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Adventfjorden. Credits: GalileoMobile / Fabio Del Sordo

When I was there, a few hours ago, I was thinking of all the guys we met in Uganda two years ago, and of our discussions about the solar Eclipse. In 2013, a few weeks before a Solar eclipse took place in Uganda, together with other Galileonauts I traveled to this equatorial country for the GalileoMobile expedition “In the Land of Beauty”.
During this travel I learned that eclipse, in Lugiso, one of the Ugandian languages, is “Inyanga ili khukhupana ni Kumwesi” – The Sun is fighting the Moon.
Tomorrow this fight will take place once more, following the cycles of celestial mechanics, and a bunch of humans will be, once again, overwhelmed by the majesty of the cosmos, in the Arctic just like at the equator, always under the same sky.

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Galileonaut’s self-portrait. Credits: GalileoMobile / Fabio Del Sordo