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  Nr. 18 - August 1999
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Paros to View 75% Eclipse of the Sun

by Judy Gregory, August 1999
Apart from its gloriously translucent marble which was coveted by the world’s most inspired craftsmen, Paros is also known as the birthplace of Archilochos the ancient Greek poet. Archilochos wrote about many things - including an eclipse of the sun circa 600-650 BC. It is more than likely that he knew nothing of the event beforehand, so it must have come as something of a shock to Mrs Archilochos to find that having just hung out her washing to dry, the sun began to slowly disappear! However, the fact is that Archilochos did enjoy watching the eclipse of the sun from Paros, and that is precisely what we will all be able to do again very soon.

At sunrise on the 11th August a total eclipse of the sun will commence about 400 kilometres south of Nova Scotia on the eastern coast of Canada. Of course what we will actually see depends very much on a clear sky, so there is little guarantee that the total eclipse will be seen in those areas where there is a fairly good possibility of cloud. Obviously, it is no Greek myth that there is a strong possibility of a clear blue sky over Paros on 11th August this year! Indeed, Paros is an excellent place to view the eclipse.

The diagram above shows the track of the Moon’s shadow across the Earth and the line of 100% total eclipse which is around 100 kilometres across. As the line is created by the round shadow of the Moon moving across the Earth’s surface, we already know what to expect to see in the areas of partial eclipse which lie north and south of the line of totality. The degree of eclipse is the same north and south of the line, so Paros will see 75% of the sun obscured south of the line whilst north of the line, Stornaway in Scotland will also see a 75% eclipse.

The moon’s shadow carves a path across the Atlantic Ocean and first touches land in Cornwall, South West England. It then travels on across the English Channel, over the Channel Islands, Cherbourg in Northern France and on through Luxembourg, Munich, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India, where it eventually comes to an end at sunset over the Bay of Bengal.

One of the best places to view the 100% eclipse will be the Eastern deserts of Turkey, but if you are satisfied with a 75% partial eclipse then Paros is where you should be!

As the eclipse progresses don’t fret and start thinking that the end of the world is nigh, as the cocks crow and the birds of the air and other animals start to behave as if night is falling - it’s just mother nature adjusting to the light! It can be a bit spooky, but not as spooky as the sudden darkness along the line of 100% totality. Here the moon’s shadow can be seen approaching and an uncanny stillness settles on the land - provided there are no clouds!

Perhaps August 11th 1999 from 12.41.22 hrs to 15.34.27 hrs would be the most appropriate time to hold a really big Party of Celebration in honour of Archilochos, the most famous Son of Paros - after all he was first to record the observation of the sun eclipsed as seen from the island.


If you view the eclipse without care you will definitely damage your eyesight - and no eclipse is worth that! Do not view through sunglasses, fully exposed and developed film, colour film and chromogenic black and white films. It is also dangerous to look through the viewfinder of a camera or through a video camera.

1. View only through special solar viewers with optical density 5.0 or greater. These are on sale in Paros (see advertisement below) and they should carry an EC Inspectorate Notified Body No. They are made from cardboard and the lenses look like the silver wrapping thrown over marathon runners when they collapse at the finish!

2. PINHOLE PROJECTION can be achieved by using two pieces of stiff card. First punch a pinhole in one piece, then stand with your back to the sun and allow the light to pass through the pinhole on the first piece of board, so that it falls onto the second piece of board which should be a metre away. The image of the sun will be reversed, but you will be able to see what the eclipsed sun looks like - and you won’t damage your eyesight!

Some additional online resources for data on the eclipse are: www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/7137/ez.htm or www.cieletespace.fr.

PLEASE DON’T RUIN YOUR EYES - if you and your children want to watch the eclipse safely, Mavroulia has special glasses for sale at 1,200drs. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your or your children’s safety during the eclipse, please contact them (see below).
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