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Christopher Low

FS2002 solar eclipses

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I was wondering how FS2002 would handle a solar eclipse so went to South Africa - FAWB - and set up Dec 4 - 8:17am.Attached is the result.At least they appear to be in the correct place in the sky.Ah well.

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Now I am confused. All the fuss about the solar exclipse was here in South Australia, not South Africa. Boy hose people who spend thousands of dollars flying from all over the world to get here must have been miffed when they found out they had the wrong country! :)Cheers,Mark Underwood(Adelaide, South Australia)

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I believe the eclipse passed over South Africa some hours before it reached Australia - though due to some cloud, I don't think spectators got the same view as you did ;-) Andy

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I saw footage on the news from S. Africa. It was quite specy.

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Mark,The Moon's shadow first touched the Earth's surface in the Atlantic Ocean west of central Africa. It first touched land in Angola, before passing over Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, the extreme north east of South Africa, and Mozambique. It then crossed the entire expanse of the southern Indian Ocean before again making landfall in South Australia as it passed over a place called Ceduna near sunset. Moments later, the shadow left the Earth's surface, and will not return until 23rd November 2003.The length of totality at the ends of the track was only around 27 seconds (due to the Earth's surface curving away from the Moon's shadow), and this increased to a maximum of 2 minutes, 4 seconds halfway across the Indian Ocean.I have never seen a total solar eclipse myself, even though I am extremely interested in them. I did travel to Cornwall for the eclipse of 11th August 1999, but unfortunately the weather was cloudy ! Nevertheless, the sudden darkness was incredible to experience. When the eclipse reaches around 60 per cent partial, the light starts getting somewhat dimmer. This is followed by a strange stage where the light appears to be rather silvery (a bit like black and white, but noticeably different). I think this is because the light is receding faster than during a normal twilight. The last few minutes before totality are quite spectacular, since the light is visibly fading by the second.When totality arrived, the effect was similar to a really MASSIVE thunderstorm. The sky above was very dark, but the horizon was actually brighter. This is because the shadow isn't large enough to extend to the horizon, so you see the light coming from areas that are outside the path of totality. It is EXTREMELY eerie, and is a totally fantastic experience. I remember seeing lots of flashes in the far distance as people naively started taking pictures with the flash enabled ! Just how much of the vast landscape were they expecting to light up with their puny cameras ? :-lolLess than 2 minutes later, the edge of the shadow could be clearly seen as it rushed past, and daylight returned INCREDIBLY quickly. Since our eyes had adjusted to the darkness, it seemed brighter just after totality than just before it.I actually filmed the entire eclipse with my camcorder. The only problem with this is that the camcorder was very good at compensating for the light reduction. This made the landscape look a lot brighter than it was in reality. However, I did catch the back edge of the shadow moving above the clouds, and this was even more noticeable when the framerate was slowed down. I also successfully filmed the eerie red glow on the horizon, and even some camera flashes !So, even though I failed to see the totally eclipsed Sun itself (and that is something that I really want to correct at a future eclipse), the overall experience was quite breathtaking. If any of you have a chance to see a total eclipse of the Sun, do not hesitate. It is one of the most amazing things that you will ever see in your life.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Chris,I have to agree with you that a total solar eclipse is the most amazing site in the natural world.I was lucky enough to witness the 2nd longest period of totality back on 30 June 1973 off the coast of Mauritania onboard the MS Monte Umbe and shared the occasion with Patrick Moore and a BBC film team from "The Sky at Night".The 6m 20s went like a flash. My memories of that event stay as clear as on the day itself and I'll take them with me to the next world.I hope to see a second one when time, money and a reasonable geographical location permit.Cheers,

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great - interesting responses.Yeah - I saw the 1999 eclipse in Belfast. There were broken clouds and I don't think it reached complete totality in Belfast - although it did get very very dark. Almost everyone had stopped work and left the office to go outside. I found it strange that some people seemed not to care really. (?). Like it's not the type of thing you're likely to see again very soon - right on your doorstep.I'll always remember the shadows - all little crescent shapes - very weird. A great experience - something I'll never forget. I'll do my best to get to see another one at some stage.cheers.

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Hi 5LG,Of course the 11 Aug 1999 eclipse passed over Manchester too but the 95% partial wasn't enough to show the beauty of the solar corona. Even 99% won't help :-( The most amazing part of the one I watched was the Diamond Ring effect - a truly beautiful sight and I still remember hearing the gasps of those around me. Watching it on TV is interesting but nothing can actually compare to witnessing one. The experience is very humbling and it brings it home to you just how powerful nature can be.I agree that the light during that '99 eclipse was very eerie once a large part of the sun had been eclipsed and yes, my neighbour's wife didn't want to watch any of it either. Very strange!Of course if money is not a problem then a seat on Concorde would be ideal - it can stay in the path of totality for up to 2 hours after which even that great bird cannot keep up with the speed of the shadow.Cheers,

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Hi Ray -Yeah - I'd love to witness the complete real thing - diamond ring and all. I can understand that it's something you can't fully appreciate on TV.And a seat on Concorde - that would just be amazing with or without a Solar Eclipse - maybe someday :-scatter CheersJerome.

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Jerome,The eclipse of 11th August 1999 was only around 85 per cent partial as seen from Belfast, although I agree that this is quite enough to appreciate the reduced light.With respect to future eclipses, the next reasonable chance to see one will be on 29th March 2006. The track of totality passes across northern Africa (including Nigeria, Chad and Egypt) before crossing the Mediterranean Sea and then Turkey. This would be a pretty good place to see the eclipse, and I am SERIOUSLY considering doing this.As for the two total eclipses between now and then.........well, you can pretty much forget it. The total eclipse of 23rd November 2003 will ONLY be visible from that wonderfully popular holiday resort of ANTARCTICA :-eek and the eclipse of 8th April 2005 is actually an ANNULAR-TOTAL. This means that the eclipse is actually annular (the Sun will appear as a VERY bright ring around the Moon) when the shadow first comes into line with Earth. This is because the surface of the Earth curves away from the shadow cone at either side of maximum eclipse, which means that the Moon appears slightly smaller to an Earth observer. In the case of this eclipse, that is enough to reduce the apparent size of the Moon to less than that of the Sun, which makes totality impossible. However, at eclipse maximum, the Moon's shadow is just long enough to touch the Earth's surface, and totality is visible from a very narrow and restricted area. In other words, the total amount of land surface touched is extremely small, and the duration is very short (just a few seconds).Therefore, 2006 would appear to be the next best bet :-)Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Hmmm . . . 2006 you say. Egypt - now that would be great - the Pyramids are a place I've always wanted to visit. I remember seeing an image (painted I think) of an eclipse behind a pyramid - really cool. Thanks very much for that info Chris.CheersJerome.

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Jerome,You will have no luck seeing totality from Giza in 2006, or any of the other pyramids, since the central track passes across the WESTERN section of Egypt. Of course, you could watch a large partial eclipse whilst sitting astride the Sphinx........but I think you'd agree that this would be pretty stupid :-lolChris Low,ENGLAND.

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