The Eclipse: Germany - World shares a strange ceremony of science, superstition and awe

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BERLIN'S SPARROWS paid no attention, twittering away as darkness descended on the city. Humans, though, stopped in their tracks.

At 12.38 you could tell it was getting darker, and a glance heaven-ward revealed the reason. Clouds blocked the Sun out of view. For a few seconds, the thinning solar crescent was just visible but even that vanished quite soon.

So much for the spectacle of the millennium. Berlin's 85 per cent eclipse was no contest with the real thing on the telly. A bit like a football match, really much more enjoyable from the comfort of your armchair.

The people in southern Germany, or those from the north who had paid good money to make the journey down into the magic zone, did not fare much better. True, it got dark in Stuttgart, too. But that was because it was raining heavily.

Munich stayed dry but cloudy, had a huge party, and saw little.

The A8 motorway tracking the route of the millennial shadow clogged up with tens of thousands of eclipse spotters. Nobody moved, but a few stranded on the hard shoulders were at least able to tune into the radio, to hear a running commentary on the phenomenon they were not witnessing.

One man in southern Germany climbed an electricity pylon for a better view. He was being treated for severe electric shock last night.