Partial Solar Eclipse – 4/1/2011

Partially Obscured by the Medway

A solar eclipse in suburban solitude

You can’t always be in some magnificently theatrical setting to see the moon get in the way of the energy of the sun for a few minutes.  Sometimes you just have to be where you are passing through.  This time, we were in Gravesend.  You may feel it was an obscure place for cosmic dowsing and astronomical observation – but bear in mind that it’s only just down the Thames from Greenwich and it’s home to someone – lots of someones, in fact.

Due to a mixture of mischievous weather and personal maladministration, we ended up on the banks of the Medway visiting the vestiges of our family on the day of this partial solar eclipse.   The augers were not good.  The eclipse was due to take place at dawn (and it started just before dawn) on 4th January 2011.  We were never likely to see very much – and in the end we saw absolutely nothing at all.  It was a quite classic British eclipse, a fine example of the genre.

However, for the earth energy dowser, all was not lost.  In fact nothing was lost at all.  Not wishing to crowd out my in-laws, we have taken to staying for our very occasional visits to the north of Kent in a local hotel.  I had visions of wandering around the car park gravel in the gloom, trying to explain to bemused overseas guests what a bloke was doing with two bits of wire amongst the frosted cars, at such a grey time of the morning.  But we were spared even that. 

On arrival, we were asked what room we would like.  In the three days we were there we didn’t see another soul, other than a couple of underemployed members of staff.  The old year was over, but the new one had yet to arrive in any meaningful way.  So, with a whole hotelful of rooms to choose from, what do you go for?  Room 14 was suggested and, in the absence of any other information, we took it – and what a stroke of luck (if that’s the right phrase) that turned out to be.  A cursory test of the energy revealed a wide, positive, well-balanced earth energy line was striding through Room 14 – and right across the bed.  Not only did we have three nights of blissfully untroubled repose, but we had a purpose-built, grandstand seat for our very own eclipse energy workshop.  

As the early morning drizzle pattered ineffectually against the window and the sky painted itself various shades of colourlessness, the Dartmoor dowsing duo rubbed their eyes, unpacked their rods and got to work.

Having failed miserably to anticipate an indoor event, we had brought no means of marking the locations of energy lines on a hard, carpeted surface.  However, true to form, as ever, the ideal tools were readily presented to us in a nice little ceramic bowl.  The width of the line at rest was duly plotted in ‘sticks’ of fair-trade sugar and the subsequent movements of the edges of the line described in similar ‘sticks’ of the finest, freeze-dried Kenco.  I’m sure Sir Isaac Newton had to improvise a bit from time to time, too.

The initial width of the line was a shade over 200cms.  As the eclipse got underway, it started to narrow – and it continued to reduce in width slowly and quite steadily over the next three quarters of an hour.  Unlike the precipitous collapse of a line that we had experienced at previous total solar eclipses, this almost felt like a considered, thoughtful process of contraction.   According to our NASA Internet handout, the maximum planetary alignment would occur at 08.12 in the eastern borderlands London – and so it did.  Either side of this zenith, the width seemed stable at 87cms. One aspect that I had not even considered in my preparation was that the reduction in the width of the line was slightly asymmetrical, with the northern section reducing a little more – and a little more quickly – than the southern side.  Was this due to the partiality of the eclipse, and the movement of the heavenly bodies relative to one another?  The greatest extent of this eclipse was around 76%.

As at previous solar eclipses, I also dowsed before and during the event for any change in the ‘gender’ of the line.  Prior to the action, the line appeared to consist of 60% maleness and 40% femaleness.  Regardless of what I am actually measuring here (!), the percentage values reversed to 40%/60% at the time of maximum obscuration – and then returned to their original values after the show was over.  My wife, Ros, confirmed these findings.

If that wasn’t an obscure enough piece of pseudo-science, this time I took it one stage further, by dowsing for the proportion of beneficial or detrimental energy in the line (from my personal human perspective).  The night before, the line had dowsed as being a healthy 7.4 beneficial and 2.6 detrimental (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Again, at the height of the eclipse, these values exactly reversed. 

While dowsing may be part physics and part meta-physics – and the measurement of an ill-defined quantification of the benefit of earth energy highly subjective – it was nonetheless very significant that the readings I obtained did reverse quite definitively and very precisely.  

If I had been out in the dimpsey dawn on a muddy moorland, I may not have had the presence of mind to consider these aspects of the dowsed eclipse.  Centrally-heated Room 14 was quintessentially the right place to be. 

There are those who would contend that this stretch of the post-industrialised south bank of the Thames is not the most exciting of destinations.  Yet, it was here that we had engaged in so much cutting-edge dowsing in the space of just a couple of hours.  Former Astronomer Royals might even have been proud of us!

As the sun was doubtless rising out there somewhere, we were afforded the luxury of packing away our little laboratory before shambling down to breakfast.

The drizzle on the conservatory roof made a bit more of an effort to be noticed, as we sat discussing the exciting events of the early morning in the solitary splendour of a spectacularly deserted dining room – Medway’s very own Marie Celeste. 

Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers, January 2011