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Archaeo Adventures


A Tale of Two Eclipses

After experience this power celestial event today, it brought me back to my last total solar eclipse – Morocco. I wanted to hop on the interwebs to share with you this amazing event and how it compared to my last solar eclipse.

In the tiny coastal town of Newport, Oregon thousands looked upward today at 10:15am Pacific Time, as the total solar eclipse reached North America and began its journey across the US. Traveling 2,100 mph, it sped along the over 3,000 mile path from west to east coast in just 90 minutes!  Life stopped as most eyes were on the heavens. They say existence seems to standstill and holds its breath when an eclipse passes by. Birds go to sleep as darkness falls. Animals still their movement. Even humans go on pause. I’ve now witnessed two solar eclipses and I can say definitively this is the case.

Waiting for the sun to crest the horizon and the 2015 solar eclipse to get underway.

August always finds me back home with family and friends; this solar eclipse had perfect timing. It’s path just skirted Seattle – giving me the opportunity here to see nearly a complete solar eclipse. My last solar eclipse was in a place very near and dear to my heart – the Moroccan Sahara desert.

In 2015, I was leading our March Majestic Morocco Tour. As luck would have it (with a little bit of preplanning and timing), our group was able to reach the Sahara desert in time for the 2015 total solar eclipse. It was a spectacular event. The Sahara desert is a magical, beautiful place. Golden, coppery sand dunes ripple as far as the eye can see.  Twisting and turning, some form colossal hills, almost mountains. Sunsets and sunrises in the desert seem to light the whole sky on fire. The 2015 solar eclipse took place shortly after sunrise. On a normal day when the sun crests the horizon the light becomes harsh quickly. Winds will whip up small sand flurries that can quickly become full on sandstorms.  Shadows length and the colors take on a deep intensity.

After camel trekking deep into the desert the day before; our group climbed a towering sand dune just before sunrise to have sweeping views for the eclipse. By 8am the eclipse was well underway – shadows softening, harsh tones lightening, colors losing some saturation. As the totality of the eclipse approached the shadows completely disappeared. The heat from the intense desert sun subsided until no warmth could be felt. The light became what photographers term “white light,” similar to being in a sandstorm. It was like being inside a giant softbox. There were no shadows and the light had a white also silver sheen to it.

Camel train moving through the Sahara during the solar eclipse just before totality.

Shadows disappearing and the light changing to white light as totality approached.

Even deep in the Sahara sound travels far and usually one can hear sounds off in the distance – dogs barking, birds singing, the puttering of a car kilometers away. But, during the eclipse everything was absolutely still and silent. Life held its breath in unison. There wasn’t any noise and not even the smallest breeze. It was complete stillness.  

As the eclipse, began to separate at about 9:15am the heat and light from the sun slowly returned. By 9:30am the harsh light and deep shadows had returned and the desert was once again a hot windy place. For a brief hour long window during an the eclipse it was like very existence on Earth stood still. Along with the Venus Transit of the Sun and now the Great American Eclipse, the solar eclipse we saw in the Sahara was one of the most surreal, magical, unique and breathtaking natural phenomenon I’ve experienced.

The Sahara just after the aspect began to separate and shadows started to return.

I didn’t know if another solar eclipse would have that same wow factor – today’s eclipse definitely delivered!

This time I exchanged sand flurries, rolling dunes and an African continent for the damp, foggy Pacific Northwest. With the path of totality just skirting by Seattle, I stayed in my hometown for this one. On the west coast, we were the first to see the eclipse. I scoped out a spot on a local rocky beach to enjoy  a wildly different environment than my last solar eclipse. Just as the moon neared its exact alignment with the sun, an thick fog rolled in wrapping us in an eerie mist. Luckily the sun and moon were still visible and photographable. Again, stillness set in as the peak of the event was reached. Then the sun and moon moved on – across the US for the next 90 minutes treating anyone in its path to an amazing show.

Scoping out eclipse photographing location.

Eclipse beginning – can you spot the international space station photobombing the picture?

Totality has been reached! In Seattle we could 92% of the sun was covered.

All quiet – the day the US stood still. As the sun and moon aligned, fog rolled in and the darkness from the eclipsed made for an eerie scene.

While eclipses happen pretty regularly, it’s rare to be in the right place at the right time to see the exact alignment. And its worth the effort to see this event! With 92% of the sun covered it made for an incredibly unique and beautiful thin crescent in the sky. The next total solar eclipse will be in July 2019 in Patagonia. Who wants to join me? #Argentina2019OrBust

Have a fun eclipse story? Want to share some of your eclipse photos? I’d love to hear from you! Please share with me your experience and your photos by email at [email protected] or you can share them on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you and your experience of this eclipse or past eclipses.

Best Wishes and Wonderful Travels,


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