ECLIPSE TRIPS


First trip:  11 July 91 to the Baja to see the 6 1/2 minute total solar eclipse.  We didn’t plan on seeing any others, but about a year later PBS had a special on that eclipse, and we both asked, “when and where is the next one?”  That’s a sign one is getting hooked!

Second trip:  3 November 94 to Sevaruyo, Bolivia.  We called that the trip where every other night we had a bed.  I was altitude sick for a day in La Paz, and then we took the train south to get into the track.  Most memorable moment (and remember, this is 1994):  the train stops in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.  Somebody asks, “Where are we?”  Simultaneously, about 5 people say “18 degrees South 64 degrees west.”  Totally correct and completely useless!

Third trip:  24 October 95 to western India.  This eclipse was a guarantee on weather for days before.  We saw birds roost about 10 minutes before totality.  Because totality was so brief, we saw the chromosphere (the inner atmosphere) of the Sun for the whole time.  It was a lovely lavender.  I would put the shot on here, but my cable release broke prior and using my finger caused some blurring.  It may have been the prettiest I’ve seen.

Fourth trip: 9 March 97 to Siberia.  That is described elsewhere in this blog.

Fifth trip: 26 February 98 to Aruba.  We went to the south end of the island, where it started to rain.  We went back north and saw it in cloudy but adequate skies.  Had we stayed put, we would have been just fine.

Sixth trip: 21 June 01 to Zambia.  Jan had broken her humerus and had external pins in.  I could have been a nice husband and stayed home to help her.  Or I could have gone to the eclipse, which I did.  We saw totality about 50 miles north of Lusaka, the capital.  It was the only eclipse trip I was on where everybody in the group was silent.  That in of itself was probably the weirdest experience of all!

Seventh trip: 23 November 03 over Antarctica.  We flew to Punta Arenas  Chile, then took a couple of days to see Torres del Paine, a remarkable formation of climbable (not ever by me!) rocks.  We then took a Lan Chile flight with open cockpit (meaning you could look over the pilot’s shoulder, especially when he was taking pictures himself), getting totality somewhere around 73 degrees south latitude.  We then flew over the South Pole from an alititude of 2500 feet.  We came back over the Presidential range, flew around Vinson Massif twice and came back to Punta Arenas.  It was a 14 1/2 hour flight.  Next afternoon, we caught flights to Santiago, Lima, LAX and finally Tucson.

DSCF0126

Torres del Paine:

DSCF0146

Magellanic Penguin:

DSCF0056

Antarctica Mountains:  The clarity of the air and the starkness of the shadows were remarkable.

Below is the South Pole station.  While we flew over (two passes), a C-130 cargo plane took off.  The contrail at the surface was incredible to see.   DSCF0031

Vinson Massif, highest mountain in Antarctica:

DSCF0076

Eighth trip:  8 April 2005 to the South Pacific.  We flew to Tahiti, took a cruise by Pitcairn and Easter Islands, then ended in Callao/Lima.

This is right after totality.  The dark clouds are the departing Moon’s shadow.DSCF0154

DSCF0100The author, with Pitcairn Island in the background.  It was too rough to land.  We really lucked out with this eclipse, because a low pressure system suddenly strengthened to our south.  Meteorologist Jay Anderson had the captain move us further northeast along the track the night before.

DSCF0110This is Tongariki, where the Moai were ordered.  I found that and Anakena interesting, but the quarry was to me the real Easter Island (below).

DSCF0166

Ninth trip:  29 March 06 in Libya.  We flew to Genoa, Italy and cruised to Naples, Syracuse, Alexandria, and landed at Tobruk, where we saw the eclipse inland.    As you can hear in the video, when totality occurred, a bunch of Libyans in cars came honking across the desert like a modern day Lawrence of Arabia.

Tenth trip:  1 August 08 in the high arctic, by air.  Unfortnately, our window was very icy, and our view was significantly degraded.  Efforts to try to find out why this occurred were totally stonewalled, which I think is unfortunate.  Still, we did see totality, and anybody who goes to Eliot Schechter’s web site will see a shot of totality taken from the plane at 36,000 feet (11,000 meters).

Here is our shot of the North Pole:IMG_0691

And proof of sorts:IMG_0689

Eleventh trip: 22 July 09, south of Shanghai China.  This is about as close to missing one without actually doing it.  After days of high humidity and record temperatures, a front sagged south on eclipse day.  We moved south, but alas, the front followed us, and while we had good views of the Sun 2 hours before, it clouded over until 2 minutes before totality.  Then we got this:IMG_1477 Not impressive, but we did see the corona.  Because of the thick clouds and the length of this eclipse, we had a wide shadow and it got dark.  Really, really dark.  Eclipses normally drop the light to late twilight.  Not this one.  It was NIGHT!

11 July 2010:  See the related post on this one.  We were supposed to fly and then the plane got cancelled.  We got one clear day in the austral winter and got one great eclipse!

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2 Responses to “ECLIPSE TRIPS”

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