After a few minutes, they moved on. However, they soon returned with their fellow co-workers in greater numbers. No longer would I be alone during the rest of the eclipse. Thereafter, I was in the company of anywhere from 10 to 25 hotel staff on the balcony. Most of the time there was someone looking through the telescope to see the partial eclipse, and often there was a line. The authorities had led my new Hungarian friends to believe that they could not look at the sun at any time without their eclipse glasses (or proper filters). I told them that the ONLY time they can look directly at the sun without protection is during the total phase of the eclipse, and if you kept the glasses on you would not see a thing. Looking back, I’m amazed that none of them bumped or moved any of my equipment. All of the staff were very careful, and quite appreciative of me answering their numerous questions about the eclipse. I periodically looked over the balcony at the rest of the ATMoB group to see how they were doing.
With the arrival of moon’s shadow (e.g. totality) about ten minutes away, I started the camcorder running continuously. All of my equipment was ready. The temperature was perceptibly cooler and the light from the sun was more gray and noticeably dimmer than normal. Shadows became very sharply defined. During the last five minutes before totality, the light level became dimmer at increasing rate, as if a dimmer was slowly turning off the sun.
After taking a quick look at the sky near the mostly eclipsed
sun and judging the general movement of the clouds, I could tell that no
thick clouds would obscure the corona, only some thin transparent clouds.
The hotel staff and myself looked for the shadow bands on the sheet I had
laid out, but did not see them. I think the thin clouds prevented
us from seeing the shadow bands since they are very low contrast.
At one minute, I instinctively yelled “one minute--filters off,” later
realizing that this statement only applied to me since I was the only one
in the area with a telescope. Shortly after taking the solar filter
off my telescope, I looked to the west and noticed some darkening clouds
low on the horizon--it was the moon’s shadow. As I watched, I could
see the edge of the moon’s shadow progressively darken first the distant
clouds then the nearby ones as the shadow moved towards us at 1600 miles
per hour. Quite amazing! I explained the whole phenomenon to
my hotel staff companions as we all watched in amazement. Additional
video frames in a separate page clearly show the approach of the moon's
With about 15 seconds left, I took a quick glance skyward to see the emerging diamond ring, with the “diamond” at about the eight o’clock position. It was beautiful but still quite bright. Uncontrollably, I started jumping up and down in excitement yelling “diamond ring, diamond ring”, and just after the diamond disappeared I raised my hands yelling “Totality!” The lighting dropped suddenly, and then the entire corona and Venus both flashed into view. Everyone was yelling in celebration. It was 12:48:48 p.m. (local time)--second contact and the start of totality. Rare mid-day darkness was upon us!
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