Wednesday, March 29th 2006

I got up before dawn on eclipse day, and walked down to the Temple of Apollo to watch the sun rise. I listened to 'Mute', by Porcupine Tree - I'd done the same seven years before on a hilltop in Cornwall, and two years after that by the Zambezi in Africa. We'd decided to watch the eclipse from the end of the breakwater, and by the time we got there shortly before midday, the moon had already begun to cross the face of the sun.

Until the sun is at least half covered, you never notice the light fading, but it gets quicker and quicker, and in the dying few seconds the eeriness is incredible. The sky faded to a deep, deep blue, Venus appeared brightly near the sun, and the sun itself shrunk to a single brilliant point, and then disappeared, leaving a hole in the sky surrounded by the glowing corona.

Probably I'm getting used to seeing eclipses. In Cornwall, I genuinely thought there had been some kind of mistake in the calculations and that it had lasted about 20 seconds instead of the claimed two minutes. The Zambian eclipse was well over four minutes long, and didn't seem to go quite as quickly as the Cornwall one. This one was also four minutes, and I felt like I actually had time to appreciate what was going on.

The sun returned, to cheers from the crowd. Within a few minutes, it was like the eclipse had never happened. Daylight returned, spectators teemed away from the sea front, and we walked along to the beach to watch the Moon's silhouette slowly disappear. We chilled in the returned sun for a while, before packing up and leaving Side on a night bus to Denizli.

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