Total solar eclipse in the Libyan desert. People are spread out over the stony sand, many with telescopes and cameras on tripods, ready for “1st contact” at 11:17. Twenty busloads of people from our ship stop milling around, quiet down . As the moon takes its first bite of sun, there is some cheering. Then people return to visiting, checking on the eclipse from time to time.
We watch through welder’s glass . As the eclipse approaches TOTAL, people become very quiet. There is noticeable dimming of light. A cool breeze comes up. The planet Venus comes out in the darkening sky. The circle of horizon around all around us glows orange, like sunset.
Totality comes at 12:35.Some people cheer–we are too moved to talk. It’s fairly dark, as just after normal sundown. White streamers blaze out all around the black disk. It has a red rim on one side, blue rim on other. We see “Bailey’s beads” of several colors on the edge of the disk. We do not see the “shadow bands” expected to slide across the ground.
As totality ends after 4 minutes, we see the “diamond ring” effect– a brilliant blossom of white with a white rim on the opening edge of the moon.
As the moon slides away, people resume chatting, pack their equipment. Everyone has a slightly different memory of this experience, but no one leaves unmoved.