What a fantastic day here in Manavgat, Turkey! Several members of the Orange County Space Society are here with our special tour group to witness an event that has to be experienced to be believed.
With an 11-hour time difference from those of you back on the West coast, the eclipse started here on the southern Turkish coast of the Mediterranean with the first bite being taken out of the Sun at 12:38 p.m. Not much difference in lighting conditions occurred until the sun was about 70 percent blocked. Then, weird things start to happen, with miniature suns being seen on the ground where shadows are cast. The light is lessened, but extremely distinct due to polarization. Then the last few percent of the sun starts to disappear behind the moon and the rest starts to happen very quickly.
In moments, even with the sun 55 degrees above the horizon at 1:55 p.m. it gets very dark and looks like a sunset all around us. Everyone was staring upward and shouting as the sliver of the sun left, replaced by the prominences and corona of totality. People start to laugh and cry; the human psyche doesn't understand how it should react to such a spectacle. There is a large hole in the sky where the sun was just moments before. The rest of the sky is the deepest blue that cannot be captured on film.
For us today, the skies were absolutely clear for the event. Throughout our trip we had been threatened by rain that never materialized.
Each day of our trip has proven to be more exciting than the last. One day we were in the 2,500-year-old ruins of Ephesus and the next day playing on the simulators at Space Camp Turkey. Now we have all had our lives changed by the most beautiful natural event anyone could conceive. You can see photos, watch a video, and nothing can even come close to expressing and capturing the eclipse. Even with 99 percent of the Sun covered, unless it completes that final 1 percent, it will be impossible for anyone to understand unless they have seen it for themselves.
Just a few short minutes after totality began (3 minutes 41 seconds from our location), the diamond ring effect was seen again as the first pearls of sunlight poked through the mountains on the moon's limb.
Many members of our 17-person group have seen eclipses previously (when you've seen one total eclipse you will be drawn to more), however there were many who were here for their first sighting. After today, everyone in our party, and the thousands more all along the eclipse path, have seen something that many people go their entire lives without experiencing. I will be posting photos and writing for OCSpace, but trust me when I say that nothing I can do will ever do this justice.
Just down the coast from where we saw the eclipse lies the ancient site of the Temple of Apollo. The idea of being in a country such as Turkey and being so close to these types of places where civilization began makes what we have seen today even more awe inspiring. We have spent a week in Turkey so far and have four days to go before returning to California. In just a few hours we will catch our flight to Istanbul. Along with our OCSS members that made this trek are many new friends who all signed on to be a part of the tour. It is unbelievable that we have been able to accomplish such an extraordinary feat.
I hope you've enjoyed hearing a small slice of what we have done here. There will be much more to come. I want to also be sure to take a moment and send a special thank you to members Mary and Kaya Tuncer, without whose support this trip would have never been possible. I sincerely wish they could have been with us to enjoy this experience of a lifetime.
Larry Evans is Chairman of the Orange County Space Society California.
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