'06 - The Sahara

'01 - Zambia

'99 - Dartmoor

'98 - Venezuela

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Chasing the Elusive Total Solar Eclipse

I am a confirmed eclipse chaser. I've seen the last three, and ensh'allah, plan on seeing the rest of them too. Most people have seen an eclipse, and can't imagine why'd I'd chase around the world to see another one. But what most people have seen is a partial eclipse. The moon crosses the sun, the sky goes a funny grayish yellow, and if you have #14 welding glass, you can look up and see the moon in front of the sun. It's cool, but it's not that cool.

The difference between a partial eclipse and a total eclipse is like the difference between a postcard and Guernica, or a hotwheels car and a formula I racer, or between Tylenol III and heroin. There is no comparison. In a total eclipse, the moon completely, perfectly blocks out the sun for up to seven minutes (here's an illustration ). The sky goes black, the stars come out, and the only thing left is a ring of fire in the sky, like the eye of god. During totality, you can look up at the sky unaided - the moon has blocked any directly sunlight, and a shadow falls across the land. And reaching out from the sun 10 times bigger is the corona, a feint delicate skein of light that flickers like the northern lights or angels' wings. It is the singularly most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

To get a sense of what I mean, here's a shot of an eclipse from space . You can see the shadow of the moon; sunlight has been completely blocked where the shadow races across the earth.