David Pierce | Matematik | M.S.G.S.Ü.


Side, 2006

Side is maybe 70 km east of Antalya. It was supposed to be a good place to see the total solar eclipse on Wednesday, April 5, 2006; indeed, the Exploratorium was going to do a web-cast from there. I went there with my spouse and her parents on April 3; we would be met by three others.

Before we left Ankara on Monday, I checked the web and found three different predictions of Wednesday's weather for Antalya. On Tuesday, we checked out Side itself under clear blue skies. The clarity held through Wednesday's eclipse. On Thursday, skies were overcast. So we were lucky.

Side is on a promontory. Businesses such as jewelry and clothing shops have been built among the ancient ruins. On Tuesday we saw plenty of tourists, sitting at cafes, drinking beer in the full sun, with lots of exposed pink skin. Probably most of them were from Britain or Germany.

Two of our group were naturalized British, originally Russian; four were Turkish; then there was this one American, resident in Turkey. So we spoke three languages.

The most spectacular feature in Side for me is the Temple of Apollo by the sea. Just a few columns have been reconstructed. The local mayor was inviting everybody to a “classical”-music concert to be given there during the eclipse. The banners making the invitation were all in Turkish, although the local businesses advertise in German and English.

On Tuesday, before lunch, we had a beer or an orange juice at a café erected within the ruined walls of a structure near the Temple. The British people at the table next to ours had already had a few beers. We could hear them talking about Pink Floyd. Soon the eerie sounds of (the first part of) “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” from Wish You Were Here came over the sound system, and our neighbors started grooving to the music. If not for their example, I could have done the same thing. I remembered when I had bought an eight-track tape of that recording, at the age of twelve or 13. The sounds were fitting enough for the occasion; but it was one of those weird moments in Turkey, like driving along the Aegean Sea during my first visit and hearing a Lesbian radio station play “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”.

We actually ate lunch at Chili's Original Mexican [sic]. I decided not to mention that it was an American chain. The fish served to the meat-eaters among us was local. In any case, the view from the first-floor terrace was nice. I saw three women in saris walk past.

Later we visited the ancient theatre, where the NASA/Exploratorium people were set up for their show. Possibly they picked the theatre because it could be secured at night. A woman from NASA was handing out eclipse glasses; the people who stopped by when I was near were from the US, France, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic.

Our companion Sasha suggested that the theatre would not be a good place to view the eclipse, because the rows of seats blocked one's view of the horizon. He and his son had once tried to see an eclipse in Britain; what they could see was the shadow of the moon racing along the clouds. One would not be able to see this in the Side theatre.

Fortunately, as I said, Wednesday was clear. The eclipse was due at around 2 pm local time. Lots of people were milling about the Temple on Wednesday morning, along with news trucks and the cars of local dignitaries. A string quartet were playing, but you had to get close to hear them. Amateur astronomers were setting up their telescopes and cameras along the adjacent mole. Some of the people were wearing their tee-shirts from a previous eclipse in Zambia.

We would go out along the mole ourselves as the big moment grew near. First we just wandered about. No, first we sat in a café; but even though we had no roof over us, it was too smoky; then some of us went wandering.

The sun was hot. As the first few bites were being taken from it, Ayşe said the air was cooler. I didn't detect this till later, when the sun was maybe half gone. Then the light really started getting strange. The light was dim, but not as in twilight. Colors were still clear. I thought of color movies filmed in daytime, filtered to look like night: you can tell it's not really night, because colors still come through—and because things still have shadows.

As the sun's crescent narrowed, we took our place at the end of the mole. The air was getting much cooler; it was very refreshing. I had heard that an eclipse could induce some people to scream. In Side, the total loss of the sun was greeted by applause.

Sasha had worried that a little wisp of cloud was going to obscure the sun's corona at just the wrong time. It didn't. We could just look up and see it: a big black disk surrounded by fire. Well, that was something. The pink sky of dawn or sunset was all around the horizon. But only one star could come out, one of the wanderers: Venus.

The southwestern sky became bluer and bluer. Then the sun peeked out from behind the moon, and there was another round of applause. We could see shadows again in the clear dim light. People started streaming away from the shore.

We walked along until we found a satisfactory place for lunch overlooking the sea. We sat next to a table of six Turkish women drinking beer.

Son değişiklik: Friday, 25 August 2017, 15:44:53 EEST