Saturday, April 11, 2015

Solar Eclipse

While Germany is the land of techno pop, we have not yet succumbed! Instead we have safely enjoyed the solar eclipse on March 20. Recently, someone at church sold eclipse viewing glasses. All kids immediately perked up and bought the glasses before the service even ended. We enjoyed looking at the sun- through the glasses- prior to the eclipse and it only got more exciting once we had the eclipse to look at.
Luckily, Friday March 20 was a school holiday. All kids, plus a friend sleeping over, were on hand at 10:39, prime viewing time for folks in Bavaria. As we waited, the morning light darkened, shadows in our backyard lengthened. The air felt charged, like before a storm, but perhaps only because we were so excited. Other neighbors also came into their yards. One woman came out with a reflective blanket, the type you used to get after a marathon. Not sure what she was doing with it. Maybe staying warm? Anyway, we all watched in our yards, together yet apart. The moon moved in front of the sun, creating a partial eclipse for us of about 68%. We also made a pin hole through paper and projected the eclipse onto another piece of paper. Tori said we were like ancient peoples staring up at the skies, looking for signs of the future It did feel very caveman trying to understand the world. And we barely got that projection thing to work!
Solar power is big in the European Union and in Germany. During the eclipse, Germany experienced a 13 gigawatt drop in energy projection, requiring various other electrical facilities to make up the difference. This 2015 eclipse was cited as the first requiring a power production recalibration.  Other than that, it was just exciting to be in a prime viewing location. Then we spotted an airplane in the sky and realized they were in a better location. The grass is always greener. We did put our foot down on a request to go to the Faroe Islands, in the middle of the Atlantic, from prime prime viewing. At least we caught this one. During the last large solar eclipse in Europe (August 11, 1999), we were living in Ukraine, which just missed the main path of totality. Prime viewing was Ocnele Mari, Romania. We moved to Romania months later, pocketed our lei (re-done with the eclipse path on it) and felt that we missed something big. Well, not this time (except for Phil who was in a meeting all day).
 While the eclipse was big here, and contingent on another celestial event, the supermoon, it was not the biggest event in the sky for us that day. On March 20, the spring equinox, Royce had her first horse riding lesson after the winter snows. Trees are budding, crocuses are poking up. The real event we are waiting for; spring! Softball, hikes, bike rides, beer gardens….We’ll be wearing sunglasses but hopefully not our solar ones.