Mir defies Paris eclipse doom-sayer, gets unique view

Larry Klaes (lklaes@bbn.com)
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 13:10:42 -0400

>Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 12:04:05 -0400 (EDT)
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>Subject: Mir defies Paris eclipse doom-sayer, gets unique view
>X-Comment: Friends and Partners in Space
>Mir defies eclipse doom-sayer, gets unique view
>By Patrick Lannin
>09:45 EDT 08-11-99
>MOSCOW, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Not only did Russia's ageing Mir space station
>defy fashion designer Paco Rabanne's prediction it would come crashing to
>earth during the eclipse on Wednesday, it also got the first view of the
>moon's shadow from space.
>Rabanne, basing his fears on the predictions of 16th century mystic
>Nostradamus, had predicted Mir would plummet into Paris during the eclipse,
>engulfing the city in a ball of fire.
>But the three cosmonauts orbiting the earth instead became the first people
>to see from space how the moon's shadow raced over the earth during the
>eclipse of the sun, controllers said.
>The two Russians and one French cosmonaut had two chances to observe the
>phenomenon during their orbit.
>``They (the cosmonauts) paid a lot of attention to the shadow of the moon
>moving over the earth's surface. This has never been seen by any person, no
>one has ever seen this before from space,'' said Viktor Blagov, deputy
>The last solar eclipse of the 20th century began at 0931 GMT off Canada's
>east coast near Nova Scotia. The shadow raced at 1,500 miles per hour (2,400
>kph) across the Atlantic Ocean. It ended when the sun set at 1230 GMT in
>India's Bay of Bengal.
>Russian NTV television showed the cosmonauts' film, with the huge black
>shadow sailing over the earth, blotting out a large patch of the earth and
>surrounded by masses of drifting clouds.
>Blagov said the shadow was filmed and photographed as it moved over the
>southern English port of Plymouth before heading over northern France.
>``The shadow was very clearly seen on the background of the clouds,'' he
>The diameter of the shadow turned out to appear somewhat larger than the 100
>km expected, although this was affected by the angle that the space station
>viewed it, Blagov added.
>He said that apart from the historic footage of the shadow of the moon
>captured by the cosmonauts, astronomers may also find useful scientific
>information from the film.
>Blagov said the cosmonauts would observe the sun itself when they got their
>second chance to view the eclipse.
>Mir is currently manned by Russians Viktor Afanasyev and Sergei Afdeyev and
>Frenchman Jean-Pierre Haignere.
>They are due to quit the space station on August 28 and leave it unmanned in
>orbit for several months as the cash- strapped Russian government seeks
>to keep it in space.
>If new funds are not found, the station will probably be brought to earth
>early next year. But instead of crashing into Paris, it should be guided
>safely into the Pacific Ocean.
>Paris ``survivors'' toast Mir space station
>09:54 08-11-99
>PARIS, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Fashion designer Paco Rabanne had predicted that
>the Russian space station Mir would smash into Paris during Wednesday's
>In the end, all that fell to earth was a box of soap suds.
>Champagne corks popped as a few hundred people gathered outside the fashion
>designer's chic shop in central Paris and celebrated their city's survival.
>As the sky darkened shortly after 1000 GMT, followers of the ``F++K the
>Apocalypse'' campaign unfurled a firemans' catchnet in front of Rabanne's
>store in case Mir came hurtling down.
>The spacecraft remain safely in orbit, but someone threw down a box of local
>brand Mir washing powder from an upstairs floor instead.
>Rabanne, famed for far-out designs, had forecast in a best-selling book
>on writings by the 16th century seer Nostradamus that Mir would fall from
>sky and hit the Chateau de Vincennes military fort in eastern Paris on
>``We wanted to ridicule Paco Rabanne,'' a spokesman for the organisers said.
>He said Rabanne had pledged to refrain from any future prediction if he was
>proved wrong. ``He promised silence, that's the news of the day.''
>Rabanne, who had announced he was quitting Paris and the fashion industry
>told his employees to stay far away from the city on the day of the eclipse,
>was nowhere to be found.
>``I am a bit disappointed. I wanted to see Mir,'' a bystander said.