ECLIPSE TAPE (abridged) from Baja California: "It's July 11, 1991, the day we've waited for, total eclipse of the century. We're lucky, sunny, no clouds . . . I'm shaking a bit, didn't sleep . . . Nearing 10:25 a.m., beach neighbor cries, 'First contact!' (it actually happened at 10:24:24, predicted by ancients back in 648 B.C.) . . . Looking skyward through welder's goggles, I see black moon taking first bite from top of sun . . . Bite deepens, sun's crescent narrows . . . Colder at 11 a.m., temperature at 82 degrees, down from 102 in 30 minutes as moon partly blocks sun's rays . . . Glad I'm not alone, fun sharing this experience . . . Crowds peering up through telescopes, long-lensed cameras, reflectors . . . Two twittering birds, confused, flutter and dart wildly along shore; they think it's bedtime, but why at noon?
"Tension building, eerie light along beach, getting darker and colder . . . Hard to believe celestial dance 230,000 miles in sky affects us down here . . . Light dims, don't need sunglasses now . . . Neighbor screams and points, 'Jupiter, Mars, Venus!' as planets shine in darkening late morning sky . . . Crescents of light flicker on sand as misshapen sun filters through leaves . . . Totality nears few minutes before noon . . . Looking west at hills, I see moon's dark shadow racing toward us from Hawaii . . . Sun almost gone, a sliver . . . I recall that in Java, 1983, a frightened native asked me, 'Is dragon swallowing sun?' . . . Young woman points to outstretched sheet, cries, 'Shadow bands!' but I don't see the elusive, mysterious ripples . . . Multiple screams now, 'Baily's beads, diamond ring!' as sun's last rays blaze through moon's mountains . . . Eclipse is total . . . Almost complete noontime darkness, faint rim of light around horizon. We remove all eye protection.