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.


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


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.


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


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.


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

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