AT THE ECLIPSE
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We had gone to Northern France to see this eclipse, and stayed there for one week. The day before (Tuesday) we had visited Monet's garden at Giverny, and afterwards decided to take a peek at the meeting place our local astronomical association (C.A.A.) had found. It was called Louvicamp, a small farm between Neufchâtel-en-bray and Forges-les-eaux (north of Rouen). We found ourselves stuck in Rouen for ages in a downpour and we thought we weren't going to see anything on the day.
It was now Wednesday morning, and it was clouded over. The local news said that it would be cloudy with sunny patches. As we drove north, through Rouen and on towards Neufchâtel the sunny patches grew larger. We arrived at the meeting place, and there were loads of cars parked along the verge. We unloaded the Light Line (U.K.) Solar Projector (made of card, glue and a mirror and lens(es)) out into a cornfield full of people. There was high cloud thinning all the time and we had a small queue to see the projector, take films of it, it was so popular because everyone else had never seen one. We were just off the centre line of totality, and although we were at the meeting place we couldn't find the C.A.A. My sister was down at the bottom of the field so Mum asked me "Where's your sister?" I pointed down the field. Mum thought (aloud) that she might have found the CAA. A voice from behind said "We're the CAA" and they were right behind us. One of the CAA members was on the mobile to someone in Cornwall about the weather, and that's how we found out that Cornwall was clouded out. It was now First Contact and we heard a cork pop in the CAA. It got closer to totality and the clouds were still thinning. It looked hopeful.
73 minutes passed and it was now just a couple of minutes to totality and the cloud had almost disappeared. Everyone was getting excited and got their cameras ready to grab them during totality. Two minutes passed after that and it was the moment that everyone had been waiting for. the moon blacked out the tiny remaining sliver of the sun. I didn't see the moon's shadow, but it looked as if there was a dimmer switch being turned down rather slowly. Then there was clapping and "wow"'s and I looked up.
(not a real picture, made by me in Corel PHOTO-PAINT!)
It was amazing, like a hole in the sky. The Sun's corona bathed us in an eerie blue-grey light, not complete darkness at all. The corona was wispy, stretching out into space and you could see the stars and planets; but my eyes were fixed on the sun, so I didn't see any stars(!) We could see the light in the west during totality that meant it was over there, and the light in the East where it hadn't started. I could hardly describe it for a couple of hours, and still can't properly now. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
All too soon it was over, and the light came back quicker than it had gone. We caught a few glimpses of the cresent sun afterwards through the projector, but lost it behind very thick clouds that had formed a couple of minutes after 3rd contact and we heard a couple more cork pops among the CAA. The eclipse was over for us so we headed off before everyone else to avoid the rush out.