Learn the Chinese word for a total solar eclipse

Mock-up of the 08/21/17 total solar eclipse I observed


About a week ago, on August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse was visible within a band across the entire conterminous USA. Our town happens to be situated smack on this path of totality. Rumor had it that as many as one million eclipse chasers would be flocking to our state to witness this very special natural phenomenon. Fearing that our limited resources would be depleted by these visitors, the locals swarmed the supermarkets and filled up their gas tanks. Observation camps were set up everywhere, and parties were planned for this particular workday. Although the actual size of the crowd that descended on our town fell short of the expectations of many a retailer, traffic was indeed crazy, and our garbage pickup got pushed back by one whole day.

Here I will share with you my own encounter with the wonderful sight of this spectacular total solar eclipse, or 日全蝕 (rì quán shí), in my backyard. It is ironical that the only time one is able to look at the sun directly is when it is totally obscured by the moon. Anyhow this amazing experience has drawn me closer to Mother Nature in a special way. And never again will I take the daily gift of sunlight for granted.

(Simplified Chinese characters; see below for traditional Chinese characters.)

这是我平生第一次亲眼看到日全蚀的景象.
Zhè shì wǒ píngshēng dìyīcì qīnyǎn kàndào rì quán shí de jǐngxiàng.
This is the first time in my life that I have observed the total solar eclipse in person.

起初烈日当空, 阳光普照,
Qǐchū lièrì dāngkōng yángguāng pǔzhào
At first the sun was shining bright in the sky,

和平常没有两样.
hé píngcháng méiyǒu liǎngyàng
not unlike what it does normally.

接著周遭逐渐但明显地转暗.
Jiē zhe zhōu zāo zhújiàn dàn míngxiǎn di zhuǎn àn.
Then the surroundings gradually but definitely darkened.

大地一片寂静, 听不到平日鸟儿的喧嚣.
Dàdì yīpiàn jìjìng, tīng bù dào píngrì niǎo er de xuānxiāo
There was silence all around, no sound of the usual chirping of the birds.

我背对著太阳, 用针孔观察它的投影.
Wǒ bèi duì zhe tàiyáng, yòng zhēn kǒng guānchá tā de tóuyǐng.
I stood with my back to the sun and used a pinhole to observe its projection.

卡片上那半月形的亮点慢慢变成了月牙形;
Kǎpiàn shàng nà bànyuèxíng fr liàng diǎn mànmàn biànchéng le yuèyá xíng.
The half-moon shaped bright spot on the cardboard turned into a thin crescent;

而后, 我期望看到的奇景出现了 –
érhòu wǒ qíwàng kàndào de qíjǐng chūxiàn le –
and then, the extraordinary sight I was hoping to see appeared.

投影变成了一个完美的光圈.
Tóuyǐng biànchéng le yīgè wánměi de guāngquān.
The projected image had become a perfect ring of light.

我转身朝反向望去 –
Wǒ zhuǎnshēn cháo fǎnxiàng wàng qù –
I turned around to look in the opposite direction.

一个黝黑的圆盘平静地高挂半空,
Yīgè yǒuhēi de yuánpán píngjìng di gāo guà bàn kòng,
A pitch-black disc hung serenely in mid-sky,

外围圈著一个晶荧剔透的银环,
wàiwéi quān zhe yīgè jīng yíng tī tòu de yín huán,
framed by a brilliant, clean-cut silvery ring,

由深蓝的天空衬托, 越发美丽醒目.
yóu shēn lán de tiānkōng chèntuō, yuèfā měilì xǐngmù.
its vivid beauty intensified by the backing of the vast dark blue sky.

在那奇妙的一刻, 世上似乎只剩下了我和那颗被驯服了的太阳.
Zài nà qímiào de yī kè, shìshang sìhu zhǐ shèngxià le wǒ hé nà kē bèi xúnfú le de tàiyáng.
In that magical moment, it seemed nothing else existed in the world but me and the tamed sun.

啊﹗我的太阳﹗
Ā! Wǒde tàiyáng!
O sole mio! (Oh, my sun!)

All right, what is the general Chinese term for a solar eclipse? And what would you call an annular eclipse in Chinese? Hint: You can find all the characters for these terms in this article. By the way, this might be a good time to review the Chinese terms for weather conditions as presented in Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

————————————————————

(Traditional Chinese characters)

這是我平生第一次親眼看到日全蝕的景象.
Zhè shì wǒ píngshēng dìyīcì qīnyǎn kàndào rì quán shí de jǐngxiàng.
This is the first time in my life that I have observed the total solar eclipse in person.

起初烈日當空, 陽光普照,
Qǐchū lièrì dāngkōng yángguāng pǔzhào
At first the sun was shining bright in the sky,

和平常沒有兩樣.
hé píngcháng méiyǒu liǎngyàng
not unlike what it does normally.

接著周遭逐漸但明顯地轉暗.
Jiē zhe zhōu zāo zhújiàn dàn míngxiǎn di zhuǎn àn.
Then the surroundings gradually but definitely darkened.

大地一片寂靜, 聽不到平日鳥兒的喧囂.
Dàdì yīpiàn jìjìng, tīng bù dào píngrì niǎo er de xuānxiāo
There was silence all around, no sound of the usual chirping of the birds.

我背對著太陽, 用針孔觀察它的投影.
Wǒ bèi duì zhe tàiyáng, yòng zhēn kǒng guānchá tā de tóuyǐng.
I stood with my back to the sun and used a pinhole to observe its projection.

卡片上那半月形的亮点慢慢变成了月牙形.;
Kǎpiàn shàng nà bànyuèxíng fr liàng diǎn mànmàn biànchéng le yuèyá xíng.
The half-moon shaped bright spot on the cardboard turned into a thin crescent;

而後, 我期望看到的奇景出現了 –
érhòu wǒ qíwàng kàndào de qíjǐng chūxiàn le –
and then, the extraordinary sight I was hoping to see appeared.

投影變成了一個完美的光圈.
Tóuyǐng biànchéng le yīgè wánměi de guāngquān.
The projected image had become a perfect ring of light.

我轉身朝反向望去 –
Wǒ zhuǎnshēn cháo fǎnxiàng wàng qù –
I turned around to look in the opposite direction.

一個黝黑的圓盤平靜地高掛半空,
Yīgè yǒuhēi de yuánpán píngjìng di gāo guà bàn kòng,
A pitch-black disc hung serenely in mid-sky,

外圍圈著一個晶熒剔透的銀環,
wàiwéi quān zhe yīgè jīng yíng tī tòu de yín huán,
framed by a brilliant, clean-cut silvery ring,

由深藍的天空襯托, 越發美麗醒目.
yóu shēn lán de tiānkōng chèntuō, yuèfā měilì xǐngmù.
its vivid beauty intensified by the backing of the vast dark blue sky.

在那奇妙的一刻, 世上似乎只剩下了我和那顆被馴服了的太陽.
Zài nà qímiào de yī kè, shìshang sìhu zhǐ shèngxià le wǒ hé nà kē bèi xúnfú le de tàiyáng.
In that magical moment, it seemed nothing else existed in the world but me and the tamed sun.

啊﹗我的太陽﹗
Ā! Wǒde tàiyáng!
O sole mio! (Oh, my sun!)

All right, what is the general Chinese term for a solar eclipse? And what would you call an annular eclipse in Chinese? Hint: You can find all the characters for these terms in this article. By the way, this might be a good time to review the Chinese terms for weather conditions as presented in Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

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