Friday, August 1, 2008

Altai and the Eclipse 1/08/08 Day 15

The hotel has a stinky bathroom with a door that they found in a river. There isn't a door knob. Also a lousy breakfast too. But after eating the crap we went into a lecture room where all groups were assembled. Total of maybe 50 people. There were four groups here in China at different stages of the tour. The lectures were great. Starting with the Director of the Planetary Society, Louis Freedman then Mary brown from Cal State I believe. Both talked about what we could except at the site. Very interesting. Mary asked folks to stand if they had seen an eclipse before, then she asked for everyone to sit who had seen just one, then two, then three. Now there were about 10 or so folks still standing. Then four, now I think about two or three left. These people search for the eclipse experience. I was surprised that only two or three had only seen four. Now these folks have seen five. OK after Mary and Louis we had a special guest, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2006 George Smoot. He gave about 2 1/2 hour lecture on the latest information about the beginning moments of the Universe. He was great and way over my head. My son Levi would have liked this part. We left to the solar site at 3:30pm and everyone was ready. We had a 1 1/2 hour ride to the site in a bus. This place was in the middle of nowhere. Very close to the Mongolian border and the Russian border. I brought my Poncho and trekking poles to build a leanto for shade. The temperature is going to be 95 plus. They don't have any coolers or toilets. The folks in charge are working on the toilet issue. As the moon passed in front of the sun you could see a big difference in the way your shadow looked. It became much crisper and the lines were sharp. Then the shadow passed over and it became like night. People with good cameras got some great photo's. I took a movie of it and you will seeit after my friend Tom cleans it up a bit. It was fantastic and humbling at the same time. My planning paid off and Ed and I brought a few bottles of wine to celebrate with. I also had some dried apricots from Pakistan that went well with the wine. It was a great day and made all the torture and pain of the buses and planes worth it. 94 seconds of glory. Seams hard to believe. Lots of celebrating that night in Altai. Note: The locals only heard about the eclipse the day before. They weren't sure what to think of all these westerners traveling all this way to see such a thing. I'm sure you can guess what they thought. If your reading this your thinking the same thing.

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