One family used a colander for an eclipse pinhole-viewer, and it worked well. The shadow of the moon advanced over the sun. The sun reduced to smaller and smaller crescent, until it was only a thin sliver. The sky shifted to a darker blue, and the yellow grass of the field turned to orange. Long shadows were cast on the landscape, from the human figures, the trees, and the flagpole. I raised my camera to take a photo, and it kicked automatically into sunset-mode. (A simple AI had interpreted what was happening.)
A chill wind blew. I heard the voice of a seven-or-so-year-old boy asked his mom, “Why is it getting so cold?” Near the peak of the sky’s dome, another point of light emerged—the planet Venus! We were not in the path of totality, so were not privileged to the full effect of nightfall in the daytime. This was the closest we came. The sliver of sunlight moved to the top of the sun, and slowly the crescent of sun enlarged again, as the moon’s shadow moved away. The moment the sun began its return, the persistent dull roar and whoosh of traffic returned. To me, the eclipse was not over until the sun resumed its full form; but many tourists obviously saw it differently, taking to the road the instant our star began to return.
Richard Lea, writing for The Guardian in 2012, notes that the conflict between science and science-denial brought to vivid light in “Nightfall” is even more relevant today than it was 70 years ago, as global warming threatens to destroy much of civilization, and many powerful people deny the science. I note that climate-deniers are driven less by religious belief than by the knowledge that addressing the climate crisis will compromise their profit margin. And most politicians and mainstream commentators who do acknowledge climate change propose solutions that are woefully inadequate. On some level, we are all in denial of the coming storm.
Astounding cover by Hubert Rogers, originally published by Street & Smith publications, and I'm not sure of its current copyright status. Low-resolution reproduction used here for educational purposes only. Photos of Ross by Amy Rether.