Jasper Dark Sky Festival

Editor’s Report: Bad Editor

It’s a tough mission, but someone (else) has to do it!

Seronik-2006 Eclipse

SUN FLOWER This view of the solar corona was captured during totality in Egypt by SkyNews editor Gary Seronik on March 29, 2006.

Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Many would agree that’s a hallmark of good leadership. So I guess I’m a bad leader. You see, I tasked a select group of SkyNews contributors with an assignment that I didn’t want to attempt.

What was that dreadful assignment? To pick their favourite solar eclipse and write about it. (Turn to page 12 of the May/June 2017 issue of SkyNews to see how they did.) I knew how hard it would be—it’s like being asked to decide which of your five senses you like best. Could you? I’ve witnessed totality only four times (which I realize makes me a piker among eclipse seekers), and even I couldn’t decide which one I enjoyed most. Each was special in its own way.

My first total eclipse, on July 11, 1991, took me to Mazatlán, Mexico. This one featured nearly seven glorious minutes of totality—minutes that seemed to pass in a heartbeat. Then there was the setting. It was my first visit to a place where one could while away the hours lying in the sun on a sandy beach enjoying an endless supply of ice-cold beer (Corona brand, appropriately enough). It was an unforgettable experience. But…

As exotic as Mexico was, it had nothing on Egypt. For eclipse number two, in March 2006, I got to see the Moon cover the Sun from a spot in the northern Sahara near the Libyan border. Aside from the eclipse itself, just being in a place overflowing with so much history and excitement was both invigorating and exhausting. Kicking around Cairo, taking in the buzz and clamour of the streets, visiting the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to see the treasures of Tutankhamun and riding a donkey while inspecting the famed pyramids are all wonderful memories. How can you top that? Only with another eclipse…

I’d always wanted to visit Australia, and the November 14, 2012, total eclipse provided the ultimate excuse. Seeing the famed Outback, strolling Sydney Harbour and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef were a dream come true. And then there was the magnificent view of a totally eclipsed Sun hovering just above the horizon. Who knew that the “Moon illusion” could kick in so powerfully during an eclipse? The sight was as surprising as it was awesome. But still…

One of my favourite places on the entire planet is Iceland—the jumping-off point for my most recent encounter with the Moon’s shadow, which I viewed from the Faroe Islands on March 20, 2015. Talk about nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat pretotality tension! I awoke on eclipse morning to the gentle, yet ominous pitter-patter of rain falling on the roof of my hotel room. Not a good sign. And yet, in a tremendous stroke of luck, the rain stopped and the dark clouds parted late in the partial phases. Unbelievably, the weather gods smiled upon us, and we actually managed to see totality. Wow. Just wow.

Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste—pick one. Not me! Cop out? You bet. But on this occasion, bad leader or not, I’m pulling rank. After all, being editor ought to count for something, shouldn’t it?

Check out the May/June 2017 issue of SkyNews (on newsstands now) for an expanded version of Gary’s Editor’s Report.

Categories: Editor's Report
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