Sometime back when we were in West Africa I remembered having heard something about an upcoming solar eclipse. I mentioned it to Evelyn and we made a mental note to check the web for the particulars. The opportunity came a few weeks later in Cairo.
From the web I learned that the eclipse was just three weeks away. I figured we'd still be in Egypt at that time and took down the specifics for Cairo:
BEG 10:10 UT
MAX 11:38 UT
END 12:57 UT
Magnitude (dia) 69.9%
Obsuration (area) 67.8%
Pretty good I thought, imagining it would get quite dark.
As the date got closer we started thinking about where we'd like to be to witness the event. Petra—the 2000 year old Nabataean city in Jordan—was the obvious thought. But we'd have to rush a bit to make it and that's not our style. We'd be content to get out of Cairo and to the glorious natural surroundings of the Sinai.
So on eclipse day we were on the Gulf of Aqaba about 30km north of Nuweiba. We were camping on the beach at a low-key resort called Basata (Arabic for "simple"). At night, the shooting stars were amazing. The eclipse on the other hand was a non-event. The intense heat of the sun subsided noticably but the change in light was hardly detectable—it certainly didn't get dark. One Israeli family had a welders' mask and we viewed the moon's progress with this and with our video camera (by fooling its exposure settings) but pretty much everyone else there ignored it.
What was much more interesting was hearing about how the phenomenon was greeted in this part of the world.