solar eclipses are rare in a particular area, and not everyone on the planet will get to
see one in their lifetime.
Although the entire eclipse can last for a
couple of hours, the spectacular total phase only lasts for a few minutes.
The maximum duration of totality is just over seven and a half
minutes. It is also a rare occurrence. Indeed, for any one location, total eclipses of the
sun occur, on average, once every 350 years or so.
In London for example, the last the last total solar
eclipse was in 1715 and the the next one is not due until 2135; although northern England
experienced one in 1927 and the southwest was in darkness on August
For the Earth as a whole, these eclipses occur roughly
seven or eight times every ten years. If you want to see one, you'll probably have to do
A small fishing village on the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Java. ["The
trip had consisted of three minibuses, two buses, a colt, a horse and cart, a bemo, a
lorry, a becak and a motorbike. I had made it to the centre line..."]
General Santos City, on the Phillipine island of Mindanao. ["In the West, I could see
it getting darker as the Moon's shadow approached at nearly a kilometre per second. The
horizon was turning red as the sky turned a deep blue..."]
A small ridge in the deserts of the Baja Californian peninsula of Mexico. ["It
reminded us of the story of the Passover. As we watched, the clouds over the distant
hills turned grey, then black. The hills themselves then turned dark. Moments later, the
valley was plunged into darkness..."]
From the 3000m plus highlands in northern Chile. ["All was still, cool and quiet.
There was not a sound from the people below. However much they had read or had been told
about the eclipse, nothing had prepared them for the strange reality. Even the insects had
A tiny village in northern India. ["The sun rose over a timeless rural scene of
India. The young men of the village began arriving. They sat on the ridge and watched.
They had not come to see the eclipse but to
El Pico (1998):
From the windy Paraguana peninsula in Venezuela. ["The soldier told us we could not
pass without a permit. We had travelled thousands of kilometres. Our eclipse site, a quiet
deserted beach, was a few hundred meters further on. Behind us was a beach overflowing
with noise, crowds, cars and vendors..."]
From the stormy cliffs and coves near St Agnes (Cornwall), in England. ["The 1999
eclipse was to be the only one visible in my own country during my life time. Eastern
Turkey or Iran were expected to have the best weather but I had dreamt about seeing the
eclipse in Cornwall since I was 12 years old..."]
Ruya River (2001):
From the banks of the Ruya River in Zimbabwe. ["Suddenly the light from the dimmed
Sun became a point as the Moon covered the final sliver. The point lingered for an instant
before flickering out like a candle. Darkness descended like a shroud as the Sun's Corona
flashed into view dotted with pink flame-like Prominances. Totality had begun. Jupiter
could be seen close to the Sun..."]
Some people prefer to have it all arranged for them, or watch totality from a ship. While
looking for tours himself, Bill Ronald collected a fair number of links to share with
others to save them time.
A few people at the Exploratorium share their experiences on Real Audio.
A Brief Report on the total solar eclipse of February 26, 1998 -- by Fred Espenak.
Video archives of the Exploratorium live Webcast from San Fransisco on August 11th, 3:00
a.m. Pacific Time. The program includes reports from points across Europe and a direct
satellite link from their expedition in Amasya, Turkey -- 2hrs long at 28k.