Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/295

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

AUGUST, 1905.




AN ECLIPSE OBSERVER'S EXPERIENCES IN SUMATRA.
By Professor CHARLES DILLON PERRINE,

ASTRONOMER AT THE LICK OBSERVATORY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Total eclipses of the sun are often visible only from out-of-the way corners of the earth, necessitating long journeys from the fixed observatories to observe them. The path of totality of the Sumatra (1901) eclipse extended from the southern Indian Ocean near the African coast northeast across Mauritius, thence across central Sumatra and the neighboring islands, Borneo, Celebes and New Guinea. The most favorable location, astronomically speaking, was in Sumatra, where the duration of totality was longest and the sun, at the time of the eclipse, was near the zenith. These considerations led nearly all of the expeditions to choose points near Padang as sites for their observing stations.

The two observers[1] from the Lick Observatory, with four tons of instruments and supplies, sailed from San Francisco on February 19, going by way of Honolulu and Japan to Hong Kong, and thence to Singapore, Batavia and Padang. At Singapore we took a steamer of the Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij for the 500 mile run to Batavia. On the 'Coen' Dutch customs prevailed. The early morning, from daylight to nine o'clock, sees the men promenading the decks or lounging about in pajamas and loose slippers. There is no rising call or call for breakfast. One rises when he pleases (usually early, to take advantage of the coolest part of the day), bathes and breakfasts at will. The ladies appear at breakfast attired in loose


  1. C. D. Perrine, astronomer in charge of the Wm. H. Crocker Eclipse Expedition, and R. H. Curtiss, chief assistant.