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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/315

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THE SOLAR ECLIPSE.

the 38-foot telescope, was seen in the light of the moon, the extensive field with these preparations, exhibited a still more picturesque scene than by day.

Less imposing, and perhaps more ungainly was the combination of four great cameras under the main shed, designed to search for new planets and to depict the outer corona. These might well be described as like a cabin and outbuilding, mounted on a polar axis, yet, despite their awkward proportions, they were made to follow very accurately.

The morning of the eclipse dawned cloudless and very fairly clear. Deep blue sky, such as the writer had seen on Pike's Peak, of course, is not among the ordinary possibilities of an eclipse, but the milkiness of the blue was less pronounced than is usual in the summer season, and all felt that the seeing promised well.

At fifteen minutes before totality a series of rapid strokes on the bell called every one to his post, and one minute before the expected contact five strokes were given as a final warning. Coincidentally with the actual observation of the second contact by Mr. Putnam, the first two strokes upon the bell sounded, and the work began. After 82 seconds (the duration of totality from the Nautical Almanac was 92 seconds), three strokes were given as a signal to stop the long photographic exposures. Scarcely more than five seconds after this the sun's crescent reappeared. The duration of totality, as observed by Mr. Putnam, was approximately 88 seconds.

To visual observers the sky was notably not a dark one. No second magnitude stars were observed with the naked eye, and most of the on-lookers saw only Mercury conspicuously, though Venus was distinguished at a low altitude and Capella also was seen. So high a degree of sky illumination can not but have operated unfavorably in the study of the outer corona or in the search for intra-mercurial planets, and this is to be remembered in connection with what follows.

Before Totality.

A deepened color in the sky, a fall of temperature and a rising breeze were distinctly noticeable. No change in direction of the wind was noted. Shadow bands were seen, but those who attempted to measure their velocity found them too rapid and flickering for any great exactness in this determination. There was tolerable unanimity among independent observers as to their size and distance apart (about five inches), though some thought this less as totality approached.

It was noticed that the birds grew silent just before and during totality, but true to their nature, the English sparrows were last to be still and first to begin their discussion of the eclipse, after the return of light.

During Totality.

The attention of all visual observers was at once caught by the