We saw the total eclipse in Hangzhou!

After weeks of research and excitement, we got confirmation that day before the eclipse that Shanghai has close to 0% chance of seeing the eclipse.  A couple of my friends’ friends who are serious eclipse chasers immediately booked plane tickets to Chengdu.  Getting away like that was out of the question for me and I was beginning to feel depressed about missing the event of a century.

Suddenly, Dorothee, a former guest now a close friend, called about our other friend Hao being willing to take on the hard job of organizing a last-minute overnight trip to Hangzhou.  Magically, he bought us all train tickets and booked hotel rooms.  So by 8pm, we were happily on our way to Hangzhou.  We got into the hotel after 10pm, went for a late night snack (most places were closed by then) and set the time to meet the next day.

After breakfast on the next day, we set out to find a place to view the eclipse.  At first, we asked the taxi driver where would be a good spot, and he took us to this park area by a river.  However, there was an ugly construction crane sitting right next door and Dorothee insisted that we should not be watching it there and that we should go back to the West Lake.  Good call, Dorothee!

Back at the lake, there were already a lot of people standing around waiting for the sun to be eaten up.  At first, the sky was cloudy so we weren’t able to see much.  We also used these NASA eclipse viewing visors, which were way too dark for the cloudy weather to see anything.  My other former guest Hiroko had bought this spiffy viewing card from Japan that worked perfectly, so everybody was borrowing hers to get a glimpse.

Around 9:34am, the sky began to turn dark, and everyone started shouting in excitement.  At that moment, the clouds also broke so we were able to see the sun totally covered!  The darkness was an eerie purplish green color that’s definitely different from a normal sunset.  The Lei Feng Ta pagoda across the late lit up with the night lights and it was sight that I’ll never forget! The totality lasted about 5 minutes and it took about 30 more minutes for the sun to go back to normal.

We were all realy realy glad that we came out to Hangzhou.  I texted my friends in Shanghai and they sadly reported rain the whole time.  Two hours after the eclipse, Hangzhou had its own downpour — we were truly lucky!

For more background on the solar eclipse, read here