Solar Eclipse

When I was about twelve, a solar eclipse crossed Japan including my hometown. Though partial, it was said to be significant enough for people to see the sky darken for a short period of time.

That morning, I was studying at my dining table sitting next to my mother when the phone rang. It was my friend and her mother.

“Sweetie,” came my mother running with the phone in her hand. “The solar eclipse is happening now! They are watching it.”

“What is a solar eclipse?” I asked, but my mother was already getting busy preparing a tool for us to observe whatever the solar eclipse was. She picked up a heat-proof glass container and placed it over a candle frame. Soon, the black soot coated its base.

“Come here quick!”

My mother shuffled to the window and I followed. When I looked outside, it felt darker than usual – like in the evening even though it was still a daytime. My mother placed the glass container in my hand.

“Try looking at the sun through this glass.”

When I did as she instructed, I saw a yellow circle through the thick dark shade of soot. That was the sun.

“I can see the sun!”

“Continue watching,” said my mother. “Do you see the shape changing?”

As I watched, I noticed that the sun was no longer a perfect circle, but its edge was missing. Like a moon that’s not full.

“It’s chipped!”

Over the phone, I heard my friend also make the same comment.

“It’s happening, it’s happening!”

“Look outside!” My mother called out suddenly. “Look, it’s getting darker and darker!”

She was right. All of a sudden, the sky was as dark as dusk. But the instant night didn’t last for long. Soon, the bright sunlight came back, bringing us back to where we were. When I looked through the glass container once again, the sun was almost a perfect circle again.

“So, that was a solar eclipse,” said my mother as we hung up the call and put the glass container in the sink. “It was the moon that was blocking the sun.”

I didn’t understand how the moon could be big enough to cover up the sun, but the wonder of the night briefing touching us in the middle of the day stayed with me.