The Japanese word for “solar eclipse” is nisshoku, natively written 「日食」, which literally means “eating the Sun.” (The word for “lunar eclipse” is gesshoku, written 「月食」, which likewise means “eating the Moon.”) This morning in Sukagawa, Fukushima county, Japan, we managed to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse despite the cloud cover. Classes started early for Kashiwagi Elementary School, as students and faculty alike arrived to watch.
This sign advises students to look at the Sun’s shape by observing the shadows cast by trees, not by looking at the Sun itself.
The faculty set up this telescope for viewing the Sun as a projection onto a white card. Looking right into the telescope while it was aimed at the Sun, of course, would’ve been a horrible idea.
Here, students are watching the eclipse on TV in one of the first-grade classrooms, and this was when we thought we wouldn’t have a chance to see it for real thanks to the clouds in our area. The eclipse formed a perfect “O” down in Tōkyō. The crescent on the right side of the TV screen is, I believe, the view from Maebashi, Gunma county.
Then, however, a teacher announced that the clouds were breaking up outside. With that, students and faculty flooded out into the athletic field out back and …
… lo and behold, there it was! We didn’t really need the Sun viewers being distributed to the students, since nature was providing us with a natural filter, albeit …
… one with this pesky habit of blocking the Sun ever so often.
All this was going on before official school hours, and my official work day, as you can see:
But it was worth it:
There were announcements over the school P.A. system admonishing students against looking directly at the Sun without solar filters.
At least we all got our chance to see it.
We have two more astronomical events coming up next month. There’ll be a partial lunar eclipse on June 4, peaking at 20:00, and a transit of Venus on June 6, running from 7:00 to 13:00. We’ll get to see them both, weather permitting, but June is the rainy month here in Japan, so “weather permitting” is a long shot at this rate. I guess we lucked out on the solar eclipse because it’s still May.
Update: So the weather wasn’t so permitting with the partial lunar eclipse on June 4, but I did catch the Transit of Venus on June 6 through breaks in the clouds that day.