"A total solar eclipse is a remarkable alignment of our Sun, Earth and the
Moon, as the latter casts a perfect shadow across the former.
If you’re in the narrow path of the shadow of the Moon, at the moment of
totality you are plunged into darkness. Stars and planets emerge in the sky,
and the entire atmosphere changes. This immersion in a total solar eclipse is
As 21-year-old Australian Miriam Chisholm reported in 1922,
I looked up from the telescope just an instant before totality and thought I
saw the Corona, a pale fringe around the Sun […] and then the light went out
and we saw it in all its glory.
Historically, total solar eclipses were a unique opportunity to conduct
scientific research about our Sun, the closest star. Using special instruments
called spectroscopes, it was possible to decipher the chemical composition of
the gases emitted by the Sun – but only during a total eclipse.
As I write in my recently co-authored book Eclipse Chasers
, perhaps the
best-known eclipse experiment was the proof of Albert Einstein’s general theory
of relativity. In the early 20th century this theory could only be tested
during the minutes of totality, requiring a clear sky around the covered Sun so
you could photograph the stars."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics