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China Day 17 - Total Solar Fiasco

Added: November 08, 2009

Tags: China city night photos
Finally, 22nd of July - Day of Solar Eclipse is here! We are leaving our hotel soon in the morning. The idea was to beat other groups heading to Solar Eclipse viewing site, but we were hardly the first group in the lobby of our hotel. We got breakfast box instead of proper breakfast and I have already described how bad it is. It was the same this morning, but we were sleepy so we did not care much. What was much worse, however, was heavy cloud cover. It looks like meteorologists fulfilled their threat from yesterday.

Solar Eclipse

During our ride it was still cloudy, occasional rain made it worse. I guess most of people in bus were sad (I hope they were, because I was!) We got description how proper Total Solar Eclipse is supposed to look like and where we should look to before, during and after it. If that only worked.

It took us about 2 hours to get to selected spot. It was somewhere near to Haining. Our place was near to river close to place where it goes to the sea.

There were thousands people, some of them already settled, some were still coming. It was official viewing site allowed by authorities. We were next to building where Prince of Thailand should come.


If Eclipse happened, Prince of Thailand would have better view than most of us.

Our group, everybody is still hoping.

Other groups from Explore.

We had still enough time to watch grey sky and other bank of river that seemed rather foggy. It started rain. Not much, but enough to bother with using raincoat. Despite of light rain it was sultry hot.

I guess there were only a few people around in rather good mood. Zuzka did not care about Eclipse (maybe she did, in a way we could spend time at some other place instead) and Christine could not manage to avoid her optimism. Eventually she spotted sun. Eclipse was already in progress. But it was shining through clouds so thick eclipse viewing glasses we got did not show anything. The astrosolar filter I bought for camera worked better.

After a few photos I moved to nearby pole and put my funny micro tripod (Gorilla Pod) on it. Most of people around were cheering on sun to show properly. In vain.

I tried to shoot as much as possible, because I was aware how shaky the tripod was. Eventually I started to use ISO 400 (in retrospective that was big mistake, because many photos were exposed unnecessarily at 1/2000 - 1/8000s). Apart fro taking photos I was looking around. Dark approached from the west, it was different than usual sunset.

West is at the top (+/-) on all photos. Most of photos were done without filter. It was possible to look into sun directly.




As time for total eclipse approached the clouds got thicker and sun got lost. Night came quickly. Till now I had seen only 97% eclipse, so it was new experience to me and rather surprising how quickly it got dark and how much colder it started to be.

But that was not why I came here. Nor the unimpressive fireworks at other bank. The main program was censored by clouds.

After several minutes sun shown again. It was slowly growing and cloud cover was slowly getting thinner. After some time I had to attach solar filter, because clouds were thin enough to ask for it. It was also getting warmer.



My last photo of partially eclipsed sun (for today, of course!). Cropped.

Tidal Bore

We did not leave the place immediately after eclipse finished. This place was selected also because it features high tidal bore that should happen in about 1 hour after Eclipse was completely finished. Nobody knew when exactly, but we were promised 6m tall wave. That was probably the best excuse for waiting in up to 40 degrees hot boring place.

Eventually escort of Prince of Thailand came to his spot, so it seemed something will happen soon. But it did not. It still took another 30 minutes to happen. It was interesting, but not huge as we were told. Somehow I liked Saltstraumen more.

The Prince is somewhere there.

Crowd came to life, everybody started looking to the east. Something might happen. I am not so sure though. They said there will be Total Solar Eclipse too :-)

Let's be prepared.

But it is easy to lose focus.

There it is!




After the show was over we went to local restaurant. Explore organized it for all 200 people they brought here. The selection of meals was not as nice as Rich would pick for us.

We left quite soon, again to beat crowd on our return. It worked pretty well until we got near to Shanghai where we hit traffic jam. I was really sad during our ride back, fortunately Zuzka cheered me up at the end. She is like that and she did not care about Eclipse so it was easy for her.

City lights of Shanghai

The best things for today had still to come. Rich took us to dinner and it was wonderful. That helped with my mood too.

And at night we went to cruise on Huangpu River around Shanghai. We could see what was not possible on foot, because the Bund was closed due to works in preparation of Expo 2010.

Heidi, our local guide asked us to refrain from taking of photos until she finishes her commentary (there will be plenty of time later), but unfortunately the other side of boat promised better pictures, so only 2 or 3 people stayed listening for some time. Heidi tried to follow us and provide more information, but she realized it does not work soon.

I had to repeat every photo several times, because it was dark, exposures were long, zoom too and boat was bobbing. And because the scenery was different every second I would not had any time to listen even if I wanted to.

After some time the boat turned around and we were returning (near other bank though). To my surprise city centre started to seem less bright soon. Really, they were turning off the lights and at 10pm the centre was not lightened any more. When we were in the bus Heidi told us it was good we did not listen to her and used our time for taking photos instead.



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