March 20, 2015 by AK

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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