On 29 March, the Moon passed in front of the Sun for nearly four minutes, and day turned into night. I visited Turkey to watch the 2006 total solar eclipse -a rare event and one that I watched with several million people across Africa and Eastern Europe.
A total eclipse of a Sun begins when the Moon first begins to move in front of the Sun. For the next hour, more of the Sun disappears and looks like a crescent. On 29 March, this started around 1 pm. Within thirty minutes the light around us began to fade and the temperature dropped from 20 to about 14 degrees Celsius.
People watched the Sun, through their special eclipse glasses As thesky got darker and birds flew into trees thinking it was night. Stars began to appear in the Sky – I even saw Venus. A dog in the street was quite confused and didn’t know what was happening.
Then just after lunch at 1.55 pm, the last piece of the Sun was covered by the Moon and the sky turned black. We took off our eclipse glasses and could see the ghostly haze of the Sun’s corona around the black circle of the Moon. People were cheering and clapping. The Sun was completely hidden by the Moon. For exactly three minutes and forty-five seconds we looked at the total eclipse of the Sun. The horizon in all directions had a red glow, looking like the Sun at set in every direction.
Suddenly a bright flash occurred – it was the Sun reappearing from behind the Moon. Many people call this the diamond ring. The bright white light of the Sun meant we had to put our eclipse glasses back on.
For the next hour, the sky became blue and the air became warmer. Birds flew back into the sky. The total eclipse was ending. By 3 pm, the Sun was no longer covered by the Moon and everything was back to normal.
It was an amazing sight to see in a beautiful country. Like many ‘eclipse chasers’ I’m already thinking about when I will see my next one.
You can read more about my trip to see the eclipse, including Gallipoli and Cappadoccia, by visiting www.abc.net.au/science/features/turkisheclipse.html.
Why in Turkey?
I had to go all the way to Turkey to see the total eclipse because total eclipses of the Sun can only be seen along a small path of the Earth. This is because the Moon and the Sun must be perfectly lined up. If you were more than 100 kilometres to the east or west from where I watched the eclipse you would not have seen it.
People in central Africa, Libya, Turkey and Georgia were able to see the eclipse. If you were in Egypt, Eastern Europe or the Middle East, you may have seen a partial eclipse of the Sun.
When are the next total eclipses of the Sun?
- 1 August 2008 – Siberia, Northern China
- 22 July 2009 – China, Japan and Kiribati
- 11 July 2010 – Chile
- 13 November 2012 – Darwin and Cairns
Discover more about eclipses of the Sun and the Moon.