The turnout was strong.

Not for an election or an opposition march but for the partial solar eclipse in Moscow. At least in the part of town where I work, people left offices in droves at lunchtime but instead of heading to eateries, occupied nearby vantage points to look at the sun through impromptu screens.

The Moscow Times does a good job documenting these devices of questionable safety. I knew well in advance the eclipse was coming but by Friday morning I had more or less forgotten about it and turned up at the office completely unprepared. My colleagues gutted a few ancient 3½-inch diskettes and I got hold of half a floppy disk. Folding it, I found the double layer provided pretty good insulation, although the sun looked sickly red and large-sized X-ray transparencies with large black areas gave a better picture.

As for soot-covered glass, it’s unsafe by today’s standards but also a time-tested eclipse observation tool. But it requires advance preparation – you’d have to soot it with a candle – while for office denizens, what matters is being able to fashion a sunscreen out of office supplies within a quarter of an hour. The colander is a stroke of genius.

Thank God for the warm, sunny weather. A perfect day for an eclipse.

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