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First Expedition to Observe Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse is a rare astronomical phenomenon. Whenever there is such kind of eclipse, the science researchers will grasp this opportunity to observe the phenomenon. No matter how difficult the situation will be, the observers will overcome the difficulties during the journey and observe the rare astronomical phenomenon. This kind of astronomical phenomenon does not occur frequently. The observation often takes a long time and a lot of energy. Not only in China but also overseas, for those who were learning Mandarin Chinese and were interested in astronomy, the solar eclipse will be a good chance to observe the changes of the universe.

On June 19th, 1936, Eclipse Observation Committee of the Chinese Astronomy Society sent Yu Qingsong, Chen Zunwei, Wei Xueren, Zhou Yixin and Shen Rui to Hokkaido, Japan and Zhang Yuze and Li Yan to Soviet Union to take photos of the total solar eclipse. This was the first time that the astronomy researchers organized observation teams to survey the astronomical phenomenon. The team which went to Soviet Union was fruitless because of the rain that day while the other team took photos of the splendid view of the eclipse.

On September 21st, 1941, the Chinese Astronomy Society sent Zhang Yuze, Li Yan and Gao Lu to Linyao, Gansu province and Zhou Yixin to Chongan County, Fujian province to observe to the solar eclipse. One of the members once taught mandarin language in the province and this was a good spot for observing. The observation team in Linyao was set up in an ancestral hall to make the observation convenient and the team members also posted the timetable of the solar eclipse to remind the villager to watch the wonderful astronomical phenomenon. The villagers gave a lot of help and support to the researchers and they cooperated well with each other.

On the day of the solar eclipse, the sky was clear. The whole team members and the audience were waiting enthusiastically for the coming of the solar eclipse. When the first contact of the eclipse began, the sky was still bright and clear. When it came to total eclipse, the sky was dark, the birds were flying into the forest and the chickens were going back to their cages. An interesting scene was that a hare thought it was night and went out the hole. The native villagers were surprised at the prediction by the observation team and named the team members as Master of Astronomy. This was the spontaneous observation team in China and the first total solar eclipse observation.

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