What did the Sun do on the 28th of May 1900? It went completely dark! The Moon cast its shadow onto it.
One of my favourite places in Lisbon, antique bookshop Castro e Silva, is a quiet place saturated with stories and smells of aging paper. It’s one of those precious places where you can mentally escape into different space and time and fall in love with a book, map or a photograph. That’s where I got my most precious pieces. The very first time I stumbled across this place was when I went shopping for bread - and returned home with a book on Astronomy from 1892.
“ECLIPSE DE SOL DE 1900 EM PORTUGAL” was the last piece I acquired at Castro e Silva (After days of longing for it and visiting the bookshop almost every day to smell and look at the book. Just in case that someone would notice it too, I kept it in the back of the shelf, well hidden out of sight for other book hunters).
The book was published by the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, with the introduction by its main astronomer with a beautiful name - Frederico Oom. Across the 111 pages which I cannot understand, it tells the facts, measures and other aspects of the Total solar eclipse in 1900, becoming a part of the process of science popularization at the beginning of the 20th century. It doesn’t have many pictures but the one at the very beginning of the book is just stunning - a deep black circle that feels almost tangible - the Sun.
On the back of the book are embedded maps of the Sun’s shadow trajectory over Portugal.
It’s a beautiful and fragile object. The paper has endured all those years, but I’m afraid that the book will soon miss the moisture of Portuguese air...it has dried up in my bookshelf, slowly starting to fall apart.