Professor C. S. Hastings, of the Johns Hopkins University, also includes many interesting details in his account of the trip:
The voyage from New York to Panama was pleasant with the exception of a few hot days near Aspinwall. Somewhat further south the wind changed, obliging them to call their overcoats from the bottom of their trunks to keep out the cold when crossing the equator. During a short stop in Lima the party had an opportunity of studying South American life. The products of this country are fruits and photographs of the young women. The party enjoyed both eating the former and bringing the latter home for the admiration of their friends. The expedition really began at Callao, where the party embarked on the United States man-of-war Hartford. Few circumstances contributed more to the enjoyment of the trip than the lucky chance which threw this vessel in their way. The Hartford was fitted out last August as flag ship of the South Pacific squadron. The admiral had not yet removed his flag to the vessel, but the extra accommodations provided for him and his train condoned the dignity lost by his absence. On March 22 they weighed anchor for a sail of more than four thousand miles over the blue ocean which stretches between Callao and their destination, Caroline Island. The southeast trade winds favored them, and from the first day there was actually no necessity for altering the position of a sail....
The inhabitants--five men, one woman and two children, according to the eclipse census--are natives of Tahiti. The houses are one story structures with clapboard sides, probably cut out in California and brought out in ships, to be erected on this island. The island on which they are built is about three-fourths of a mile in diameter and nearly circular in outline. The edge, which rises from five to twenty inches from the water, according to the tide's phase, goes down under the water to an even table of coral running out many feet into the sea; and is impossible to step on it with bare feet. At the end of this table the reef goes down perpendicularly, a sheer precipice, into the unfathomable sea. No vessel can anchor here, and to make a landing was an exciting matter. The island was approached in small boats on the side sheltered from the wind, and here, with the luck which characterized the trip, was found the only opening in this barrier of coral. A long cleft, perhaps eight feet wide, at the outer edge of the reef, ran in, narrowing to a mere crack near the shore. Watching a favorable chance, the boats were guided through the surf into a cleft as far as shoal water, when the men jumped on to the reef and carried baggage and instruments ashore as quickly as possible.
The boats, which were new when they entered the surf, came out much the worse for wear, and the boat in which Dr. Hastings landed was stove in. Once on shore, life became a succession of wonders, rivaling the tales of Gulliver, and needing the conscientious descriptions of exact scientists to make them credible.
The members of the observing party took up their abode in the larger of the three houses, sleeping in swinging cots slung from the verandas, which afforded shade on three sides of the building. The second house was occupied by the sailors, while the third was left to the natives. These latter were sufficiently conversant with English to serve as excellent guides. Each day the party bathed in a lagoon in the center of the island. This lagoon was bordered by a beach of dazzling white coral sand, and all through its water extended reefs of living coral of the more delicate and elaborate kinds. These corals gave the lake a wonderful variety of colors, forming a picture impossible to paint or describe, and with the least ripple from a passing breeze the whole scene changed to new groups of color. The water was very clear, and in some places deep; in others so filled with coral that a boat could barely skim over the surface without scraping the keel. After crossing a long reef, one day, they entered on a sheet of water so deep that their longest line would not reach the bottom, plainly visible beneath. Fish swarmed here, and it was characteristic of them that every species, if not brilliantly colored, was marked in the most peculiar manner.
One variety which frequented the shallow water, where it was heated to the degree uncomfortable to the touch, was a pure milky white, with black eyes, fins, and tail.
The French party arrived two days after the Americans. They had steamed directly from Panama with the hope of anticipating the Americans.
It rained on the morning of the eclipse, but cleared off in good time, and the definition was particularly good. Photographs occupied the time of the English and French observers. Professor Holden and Dr. Dickson searched for intra-mercurial planets; Mr. Preston took the times of contact; Dr. Hastings and Mr. Rockwell devoted their attention to spectroscopic observations of the corona. Dr. Hastings' observations have led to the production of a new theory of the corona. Briefly stated, the theory is that the light seen around the sun during a total eclipse is not due to a material substance enveloping the sun, but is a phenomenon of diffraction.
From his observation during the eclipse of 1878, made at Central City, Dr. Hastings conceived the first idea of this explanation of the solar corona. Further study served to convince him of the truth of this theory, but he had no means of proving it. Before the present eclipse, however, he devised a crucial test of his theory. This test is based on the following already known phenomena: When the moon covers the face of the sun, an envelope of light is seen all round it; the envelope is not visible when the sun is shining, on account of the sun's greater brightness; this light is called the corona; it is extremely irregular in outline. According to the drawing of Mr. J. E. Keeler at the eclipse of 1878, it enveloped the sun as a hazy glow, extending for a distance of several minutes of arc from the sun's limb and at two nearly opposite points is extended out in two long streamers feathering off into space. The opinion has been that this light was due to an atmosphere extending millions of miles from the sun.