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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Using Chinese idioms in writing

Rufous Hummingbird hovering around     Blueberry Blossoms

Here is an account of my recent encounter with a Rufous hummingbird. I have highlighted the popular four-character Chinese idioms featured in this article. It will also be good for you to look at how some of the adverbs and conjunctives are used in the sentences. are discussed in Chapters 17, 18 and 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

又是大地回春, 万象更新的时节.
Yòu shì dàdì huíchūn wànxiàng gēngxīn de shíjié.
It’s that season again when the earth springs back to life anew.

园里的蓝莓灌木开满了小巧玲珑的白花儿.
Yuán li de lánméi guànmù kāi mǎn le xiǎoqiǎolínglóng de bái huār.
The blueberry bushes in the garden are full of little white blossoms.

蜜蜂穿梭其间采集花蜜及花粉.
Mìfēng chuānsuō qíjiān cǎijí huāmì jí huāfěn.
The bees go from one floweret to another to collect nectar and pollens.

偶尔也有蜂鸟光顾,
ǒu’ěr yě yǒu fēngniǎo guānggù,
Occasionally a hummingbird visits,

但是往往一眨眼就不见了.
dànshì wǎngwǎng yīzhǎyǎn jiù bùjiànle.
but it usually disappears in a blink of the eyes.

我一直希望能够录到蜂鸟的影片,
Wǒ yīzhí xīwàng nénggòu lù dào fēngniǎo de yǐngpiàn,
I’ve always wished to be able to capture a video the hummingbird,

但是没有闲空来守株待兔.
dànshì méiyǒu xiánkòng lái shǒuzhūdàitù
but I don’t have the time to sit there and wait for the bird to appear.

那天我正在为新种的蔬菜拍照,
Nǎtiān wǒ zhèngzài wèi xīn zhòng de shūcài pāizhào,
That day, while taking pictures of the newly planted vegetables,

忽然听到蜂鸟振翅的嗡嗡声.
hūrán tīngdào fēngniǎo zhèn chì de wēngwēng shēng.
I suddenly heard the hum of rapid flapping of wings.

我赶忙切换到录影模式,
Wǒ gǎnmáng qiēhuàn dào lùyǐng móshì,
I quickly switched to the video mode,

竟然录到了小蜂鸟吸允花蜜的景象,
jìngrán lù dào le xiǎo fēngniǎo xīyǔn huāmì de jǐngxiàng,
and actually captured a scene of the little hummer sucking nectar.

令我喜出望外.
lìng xǐchūwàngwài.
I was pleasantly surprised. (This gave me unexpected joy.)

想必你们也会替我高兴能够如愿以偿.
Xiǎngbì nǐmen yě huì tì wǒ gāoxìng nénggòu rúyuànyǐcháng.
I think you will also be happy for me for having had my wish fulfilled.

大地 (dàdì) is the earth or Mother Earth.
回春 (huíchūn) means returning to spring or bringing back to life.
万象 (wànxiàng) refers to all phenomena on earth.
更新 (gēngxīn) is to renew.
花蜜 (huāmì) is nectar.
花粉 (huāfěn) means pollen.
蓝莓 (lán méi) are blueberries.
小巧玲珑 (xiǎoqiǎolínglóng) means tiny and exquisite.
灌木 (guànmù) is a shrub or a bush.
蜜蜂 (mìfēng) are honeybees or bees in general.
穿梭 (chuānsuō) is to shuttle back and forth.
其间 (qíjiān), as used here, means “among them”.
偶尔 (ǒu’ěr) means occasionally.
蜂鸟 (fēngniǎo) are hummingbirds.
光顾 (guānggù) is to patronize.
往往 (wǎngwǎng) means often or frequently.
一眨眼 (yīzhǎyǎn) means in an eyewink.
不见了 (bùjiànle) is to disappear or to be missing.
一直 (yīzhí) as an adverb means all along or all the way.
希望 (xīwàng) is to hope or to expect.
(lù) is to record or to write down.
影片 (yǐngpiàn) is a movie or video clip.
闲空 (xiánkòng ) is spare time or leisure.
守株待兔 (shǒuzhūdàitù) describes a person standing by a tree stump to wait for hares to come and dash themselves against it. It means to wait for windfalls.
那天 (nǎtiān) means that day or a certain day.
蔬菜 (shūcài) are vegetables.
拍照 (pāizhào) is to take a picture.
忽然 (hūrán) means suddenly.
切换 (qiēhuàn) is to switch to a different mode.
录影 (lù yǐng) is to record a video.
模式 (móshì) is a mode or method.
竟然 (jìngrán) is an adverb that means unexpectedly.
吸允 (xī yǔn) is to suck up.
景象 (jǐngxiàng) is a scene or a sight.
喜出望外 (xǐchūwàngwài) is a common expression that means to be overjoyed or pleasantly surprised.
想必 (xiǎngbì) means “I think, most likely…”
如愿以偿 (rúyuànyǐcháng) is a common expression for having one’s wish fulfilled.

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