Total Solar Eclipse

Sorry I missed this for you yesterday, but there was a total ecplise of the sun, which was visible in China.

A film crew made a really interesting live documentary of the event.  There were a few dramatic moments, as when a wicked cloud threatened at the moment of totality!

Also, toward the very end, as they are ending the documentary and before they cut to some Chinese classic/pop fusion, you can hear someone’s boom box blaring O sole mio.

Those Italians… they’re everywhere!  As a friend of mine, the legendary Fabrizio says "Semo come prezzemolo!"

I have seen a total solar eclipse, years ago, in Canada, on an absolutely flat plain, during a deadly cold winter with a crystal clear sky.

A friend and I drive way up to see it, and we were utterly alone and so did not have the experience of other people also watching what was going on. 

Watching this documentary gave me shivers, for the memories… for more than one reason.

I recall with great clarity the way the light dropped in stages, and during totality there was a bright spectrum-like sunset 360 degrees.   The corona was large and spiked.

At the documentary webpage, you can see the whole show or the telescope only show.

The next total solar with be on 22 June 2009.

It will be visible in China in some pretty interesting places.

It’ll also be visible in Iwo Jima.

Imagine, … Shanghai, Suzhou, Hongzhou, Hebei, Wuhan, Chongqing, Chengdu – all in the path of totality.


We may have to organize a trip!  Anyone want a TLM (very discreet) pilgrimage trip to China to see O.L. of Shenshan in Shanghai and a total solar eclipse in, say, Suzhou, or Chengdu?

The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation, in the light of thy arrows, they shall go in the brightness of thy glittering spear. (Habbukuk 3:11)


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. pelerin says:

    I was lucky in that my brother is an amateur astronomer and he gave me the details of this site to watch it live. He has witnessed such solar eclipses from Turkey and Mexico and has taken some impressive photographs of them. However, watching it live over the internet was a moving experience especially when the ‘diamond ring’ suddenly appeared – I had no idea it was so sudden. It was a humbling experience and brought home how small and insignificant we humans are in the cosmos.

  2. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    I was visiting some friends near Genoa a few years ago – and one of them (a doctor)said that there was a group of doctors from Chengdu visiting his hospital. I mentioned that, by coincidence, my nephew was teaching English in Chengdu that very summer.

    Matteo then told us about the rule of five (or was it six) – by which it is claimed that you can make a connection with everyone else in the world through a chain of five (or six) other people.

  3. Trisha Tan says:

    If you’re serious about having a discreet TLM pilgrimage trip to China, that would be amazing and I would be all for it. I’ll even act as interpreter if need be (Mandarin is my first language). My father’s family is from Shanghai (though he was born in Taiwan…his parents and older siblings fled from the commies in 1948), and although I’ve only been there once, it was an interesting experience.

    If you want to make it even more interesting, hop over the strait to Taiwan afterwards. Same language, and nearly identical culture, but the difference is mind-blowing.

  4. JML says:

    The one in 2017 will be on my 65th birthday, and it will be in the USA!!!!

  5. Conleth says:

    Could you let people know about this, please.

    Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association invites you to honour the Holy Year of St. Paul with Holy Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite on Saturday, 30th August, 2008, at 11 a.m. in St. Paul’s Church, Emo, Co. Laois, Ireland, followed by a tour of Emo Court House and Gardens.

    For the past 15 years, St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association has been working prayerfully for the provision of the Traditional Latin Liturgy in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

    Please confirm your attendance to:

    For further details consult:

    God bless you!

    Saint Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association

    [And this has to do with what dimension of this entry? Wow, that annoys me. This isn’t the telephone poll near local coffee house on campus.]

  6. Tim H says:

    I would love such a pilgrimage myself, and also volunteer my language services.
    Tricia, when was the last time you have been to Shanghai BTW? The place looks a little different now from when you dad lived there ;-)

  7. Deo volente says:

    Maybe a sunspot from cycle 24 will have appeared by then! The sun is still devoid of sunspots from the next cycle!

    Here are some photos of the eclipse from Space

  8. Totally cool, Father. Thanks for sharing the documentary with us!

  9. IS says:

    Thanks Father,

    I saw one in Australia in 2002, skipping my formal to do so.

  10. Dave says:

    Chengdu, with a stop in Changsha for Mass there, as well!
    Dave [hmmm… already the elements of an itinerary!]

  11. Austin says:

    Wo men zou ba!

  12. Hettie B. says:

    Thanks for sharing, Father! What an incredible video! I’ve never gotten to see a total solar eclipse live!

    I think it’s one of nature’s greatest glories, and it truly makes me marvel at the genius of our great Creator. I can’t believe there are people who would say that things like this just happen by “accident” or “coincidence.”

  13. Lacrimarum Valle says:

    We had a total eclipse in England about eight years ago. It was at around midday on a bright summer day, and in the city where I was working every office block, shop and cafe emptied as people came out into the street to watch.

    The very strange thing was that the warmth of the sun vanished as if it had been simply switched off. It was like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” : hundreds of people in sunglasses in the eerie cool twilight looking towards the black sun, and in total silence. I suppose some things just shut people up and make them realise how small they are in the big picture.

  14. The TLM was the Mass used by both the “Patriotic” and Underground
    Catholics of China until 1992, when the first Chinese Novus Ordo was celebrated
    in Shanghai by Fr. Joseph Zen, now the Bishop of Hong Kong.

    So, if even you try to have a “discreet” TLM there, chances are that at least
    one Chinese bystander might actually recognize what you are doing.

  15. Peg says:

    We are all for organizing a trip to China. Just let us know the details and we’ll do the rest.
    Hood Travel.

  16. johnny says:

    I have always wanted to go to China. A priest who would discreetly celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, wow made to order. June is a bit far out for me, but I would certainly consider it, the good Lord willing, I’d go.

  17. Robert says:

    Was it the February 1979 eclipse that you saw? If so, precisely where were you located? I was in Brandon, Manitoba and I just about froze my fingers off. But, like you, I remember the 360 degree sunset. I also recall seeing Venus shining near the horizon and the street lights coming on. The eclipsed sun itself was truly an awesome, unforgettable sight.


  18. Robert: 1979, that would be about right. And was it cold!

  19. Jane M says:

    I saw a total eclipse in Yakima Washington at some time between 1978-1981, can’t remember the date but I do remember the corona. I also saw one in Salisbury, MD in maybe the early sixties? My father traveled to Japan and China in 1948 to see a total solar eclipse and something else (since he couldn’t have seen the eclipse in both places). I think for the eclipse he was in Japan and for something else (a planetary transit or occultation is my guess) he was in China. He told about paying for his dinner with bushel baskets of money. Inflation was running wild just before the Chinese revolution. Something this documentary didn’t mention is that just before totality the ground can look as if it is shaking as the shadow travels toward you through varying layers of air. Perhaps the cloud cover interfered with this. I saw it in Salisbury when I was perhaps six? and never forgot it.

  20. Jane M says:

    Okay, I forgot the point of my post above. When my father was in China he wanted to go to confession and found a Hungarian priest to hear it. The priest spoke no English and he spoke no Hungarian but – they both spoke enough Latin to get through it.

  21. John Kusske says:

    Count me in to go next year! I was already looking to go next year, but having other WDTPRS people too, wa! Tai hao le…

  22. Larry says:


    You got posted even though this isn’t “open line Friday”. You see right now we are focused on getting another free trip to see something and that takes priority here. NOw if you have tickets to China or a great recipe feel free to jump on in. Perhaps there were a few sour grapes in the last glass of Chardonay that the BLOGMEISTER inbibed.

  23. Yvonne says:

    I have just been reading a report of the Juventutem activities in Australia for WYD 2008 and on the 19th July, after a High Mass in the church of St Augustine in Sydney, Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong speaking to the Juventutem group said that he hoped one day Mass in the Classical form could be offered at Our Lady’s shrine in Shenshan. So you would be complying with the Cardinal’s wishes Father!

  24. Trisha Tan says:

    Tim H: We went in 2002. I know it’s changed quite a bit since 1948…and my father never lived there, he was born in Taiwan. Gotta love ’em traditional Chinese, they’ll keep having kids even in abject poverty until they get a son. At least they didn’t kill my aunts. (Wow, I’m terrible.)

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