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Eclipse in Switzerland: Sun, fun and lots of police

When the sun loses its glare during the solar eclipse and semi-darkness falls on Switzerland Wednesday, the country will see thousands of sun gazers, dozens of fun parties – and lots of police.

This content was published on August 11, 1999 - 08:24

When the sun loses its glare during the solar eclipse and semi-darkness falls on Switzerland Wednesday, the country will see thousands of sun gazers, dozens of fun parties – and lots of police.

While the Swiss cabinet will interrupt its weekly meeting and watch the solar spectacle from the balcony at the House of Parliament in Berne, the capital’s police force will fan out to assess the level of darkness.

“Berne police told us to switch on the street lights if it gets too dark in order to ‘bring light into darkness’ – which is to say help prevent crime,” a spokesman for the electricity generating board said.

Highway police will also be out in force in cantons Aargau, Berne, Lucerne and Schaffhausen in order to keep traffic moving since the official police order for drivers is: don’t stop and stare when the sun is gone.

The Automobile Association, however, has advised the very opposite and called on drivers to leave their cars at home in order to avoid tailbacks or accidents.

The association admonishes those who still want to use their vehicles to switch on the lights, refrain from sudden stops and keep their eyes on the road.

The authorities in Zurich apparently cannot stand the darkness caused by the eclipse and will therefore switch on street lights from 12:15 till 12:45 sharp.

The city of St. Gallen, on the other hand, feels that turning on the lights spoils the fun and impairs the experience of the solar phenomenon. Citizens will therefore be left in the dark so that they will get the maximum benefit of the eclipse.

Other Swiss cities such as Lausanne, Basel and Berne are still undecided on the issue of street lighting and will either illuminate…or stay in semi-darkness.

Lights or no lights is not an issue in the city of Basel, where locals and citizens alike are invited to participate in a “solar eclipse happening.” And sun gazers at the transport museum in Lucerne will have access to special telescopes as well as scientific guidance to what is happening in the skies over Switzerland.


From staff and wire reports.

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