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Yes, total eclipses are very nice. But have you ever smelled bacon? | Zoe Williams
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Yes, total eclipses are very nice. But have you ever smelled bacon? | Zoe Williams

The total solar eclipse, visible in parts of Mexico, the US and Canada yesterday, was experienced in the UK only as a “small grazing” (that’s what the astronomers call it), and then only in the north and west of the country. Happily, I went to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides for the eclipse of 2015, where coverage was 98% and people (not just me) had travelled for it from all over the country.

It was news to me that people even existed who were that into eclipses. In further news: it doesn’t even have to get that dark to fill “eclipse-heads” with wonder, and it duly didn’t – it just looked like a sad, wintry day. People talk of eclipse winds, whipping up at no notice and going in weird directions; it was quite windy, but that turned out to be normal for March. I’d heard tell that animals take on an expression of intense concentration – some call it wonder – and this I couldn’t verify, as there were only dogs there and not enough of them (two). But fair play, there are never enough dogs for me anywhere.

I was so out of joint with the rest of the crowd that, at one point, they were talking about how connected they felt to all humans throughout history, bonded to the past by the beautiful mysteries of the universe, while I was wondering why no enterprising person had thought to set up a burger van at the Callanish Stones. OK, fine, wait until after the eclipse! But imagine how different this scene would be if it smelled of bacon.

Even so, if I had my time again, I’d do exactly the same thing, talk to exactly the same people, with only very minor adjustments – I’d have breakfast first, maybe do a little bit more reading ahead so I wasn’t so underwhelmed and, at a pinch, take my own dog. The best thing about eclipses is how much the people who like them, like them. I doubt I’m the first person to notice this. I might even feel the ghost of a connection to other eclipse-sceptics, through the centuries. If you were in Mexico yesterday, I’m sure you’ll agree I was right.

Source: theguardian.com