Solar Eclipse August 11th, 1999


As promised, a report from a very different way of experiencing the eclipse :)

For those of you who do not know me yet, I work at an archaeological theme park in the Netherlands. I act as a prehistoric person, usually in a combination of museum guide/actor. We explain about our time period, but we also dress like we live in the period, and do handwork as we could have done in and around the house if we had really lived there. As you can see, an unusual setting for the eclipse.

We started out with six of us beating drums inside a Mesolitic hut, around the fire. A little past 11 our Shaman came in, saying the sun was being eaten by a big evil spirit. We then went outside, beating our drums, singing ('heya' sounds and yells, not like a modern song with many words) and dancing. This I believe looked pretty good, although we were far calmer than we likely would have been in reality. The drums and singing was likely more authentic, many primitive cultures believe loud noises can drive off evil spirits.

After a while, we went around in a procession through the park, beating our drums and singing. A number of people followed, many clapping their hands and making noise as well. When we had been through most of the park, the sun was only about halfway gone. The Shaman stopped to tell a story about the sun, and how come it moves around the Earth every day (okay, we know it's the other way around, but these people probably didn't back then :))

After this we in Prehistory went back to our various sites. I would have liked to continue but several of the others preferred to stick to this only. We are not really actors, like at a Renaissance Faire, and not everyone likes acting out long rituals. What I would have liked to do was continue during the max of the eclipse (92% here) and then afterward have an offering to the sun and a big feast celebrating when we had 'driven off the evil spirit' and gotten our sun back whole.
Oh well, the part we did was lots of fun :)

As for the eclipse itself, it was very special too. There were clouds when it was near its max, or better one rather large, very thick, gray cloud. But right about when the eclipse was at its max, there fell a couple of tiny little gaps in the cloud, showing the sun in such a way I could actually see it very clearly without eclipse glasses. I have seen this before, occasionally when the sun is just peeking through a hole in a thick cloud cover you can actually see the whole sun without it being blinding, but it is a far from common occurrence, and to have it happen right at that point during the eclipse was very special. Clouds, a prehistoric sun filter! It only lasted for a short while though, twice, the one time the sun disappeared completely after showing up for just a bit, the second time the gap was bigger and I had to look away after a few seconds when it came through completely. I took another quick peek with a set of eclipse glasses I borrowed from one of the park visitors, but the 'natural filter' was the most special.

After these two short glances the cloud covered the sun for about another 20 minutes, then it moved away completely. By then the sun had already been uncovered for a good part, and most people did not seem interested in looking any further. Nor was I, much; I felt any later look wouldn't have measured up against that special 'cloud filter' right at max.

It got a bit chilly during the eclipse, but while it was a bit darker than the clouds could account for, it did not get really 'dark'.. more like right before a large storm. A feeling that was reinforced by the chill.

So far my eclipse report, hope it made sense. It is a difficult experience to put into words.

Reporting from 'Out of Time',


grey line

Main | About me | Archeon | 3k mud | Mud and system sounds | WoT Smileys | Pictures & drawings | Charity, SETI, etc | Going barefoot | Make Money | Flying with cats | Solar Eclipse 1999 | Stories | Wheel of Time | Hotbar skins | IRC | Nederlandse IRC Faq | Links! | 'best viewed' | contact