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Centralia to Victoria

2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Oregon road trip

August 23, 2017 – Centralia, WA to Victoria, BC

Tacoma Narrows bridge
Tacoma Narrows bridge

I’m up at 7:30AM despite being in no hurry today. I find a coffee shop open nearby so I can get my morning cappuccino, and drink it on the Parkside Patio back at the Centralia Square Grand Ballroom and Hotel – a nice start to the day. After finishing my cappuccino, I go downstairs to have breakfast in the Berry Fields Cafe – two eggs in a thick slice of their oat bread and fried. It is yummy! I check out of the hotel and drive over to the Centralia Supercharger for a top-up before driving for two hours through Olympia and up the Olympic Peninsula to Sequim. There are no congestion problems today and I don’t have to pay the toll to cross on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge northbound, thank goodness.

I stop at the Sequim Supercharger (see banner image above), not that I need a charge, but I want to try it out and see where it is located for when I might need it on future trips. It is at a Holiday Inn Express, and I’m in need of another cappuccino, so I drive by the Supercharger and go downtown. I find a coffee bar which makes a decent cappuccino, and they also have apple strudel, so that will be lunch! After topping up my charge, I drive the short distance to Port Angeles. I’m three hours early, so I waste an hour parked downtown, and then check into the Coho ferry parking lot to wait to depart for home. Canadian Customs and Immigration don’t have pre clearance like the Americans, so there are no formalities before driving onto the 5:20PM ferry.

Aboard the Coho ferry in Victoria harbour
Aboard the Coho ferry in Victoria harbour

Before arriving in Victoria, I switch my iPhone back to using my Rogers SIM. After our arrival, I drive off the ferry and am directed to the slowest line clearing Canadian Customs and Immigration, but eventually I’m free to drive the few blocks to my home. The eclipse trip is over!

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Newberg to Centralia

2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Oregon road trip

August 22, 2017 – Newberg, OR to Centralia, WA

I am up by 7:30AM this morning and see the Sun rising through the smoke from local wild fires near Newberg. I pack, put my things in the car, and after grabbing some breakfast at the hotel, drive down to the nearby Woodburn Supercharger for a 15 minute charge. While I’m recharging, I find a Starbuck’s and have cappuccino while waiting for my Tesla Model S to charge to 90%. The drive north on I-5 to Centralia isn’t as smooth as I thought it would be the day after the eclipse. It appears the extra visitors to the area are still causing volume delays along the way at each interchange just like yesterday, but I arrive in Centralia only about 10 minutes later than estimated.

Joe enjoying a glass of Prosecco while I wait for my room to be made ready
Joe enjoying a glass of Prosecco while I wait for my room to be made ready

I park across the street from the Centralia Grand Ballroom and Hotel in the historic district of the city. The front desk informs me my room isn’t ready since I’m a couple of hours early, so I go for lunch at the Berry Fields Cafe located in the same building. They serve me a huge Cobb Salad with a big wedge of bread and an endless glass of iced tea. When I check back at the hotel desk after lunch, they tell me my room is almost ready, and pour me a chilled Prosecco sparkling Italian wine while I wait. I find a seat in their lovely guest lounge area, and about 10 minutes later I am taken to my room – up the main staircase.

There are no elevators in this three story historic building, but the rooms all have individually-controlled heat pumps. I really appreciate the cool room, since this afternoon the outside temperature is past 30ºC. I take the rest of my stuff up to the room and move my car to the free parking lot behind the hotel.

After cooling down in my room for awhile, I take my camera and explore this historic district of Centralia in the late afternoon, taking a couple of photos of the train station and the historic Fox Theater. On the way back to the hotel, I stop at The Station Coffee Bar for a nicely-made cappuccino. This coffee place is huge, with a performance space and an upstairs. I sip my cappuccino in my room while editing more photos. I can’t face eating any dinner after having such a big lunch. I also take quite a few photos of this historic hotel – the Grand Ballroom is indeed grand, and the shared bathrooms and polished wooden floors the hallways remind me of hotels my parents and I used to stay at in the 1950s and early 60s. Thankfully, my room has a toilet and shower, and there is a sink in the bedroom, just like the old days.

Centralia Square Grand Ballroom & Hotel - links to Centralia slide show
Centralia Square Grand Ballroom & Hotel

When I booked this historic hotel, I had a feeling it would appeal to me, and it certainly does! It started life in the 1920s as a very grand Elk’s Hall, but was sold in 1985 and became an antiques mall with the restaurant on the main level. In 2013 a young Centralia couple bought the building with the goal of restoring the ball room and other event rooms, and making the hotel rooms once again available to the public. They have done a wonderful job of restoring the old building, with the view of hosting weddings and other events in addition to hotel guests. I hate to think how much it has cost them to bring the building to the point it is today!

I’m going to try to promote the hotel and this historic city, since driving to Centralia is an easy trip for those who live in Victoria, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of BC, as well as from anywhere in Western Washington or Oregon. The bonus for Tesla owners is that there is a Supercharger in Centralia with outlet stores adjacent, and it is just a five minute drive to the hotel and the city’s historic district.

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Total Solar Eclipse Day in Monmouth, OR

2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Oregon road trip

August 21, 2017 – Total Solar Eclipse Day in Monmouth, Oregon

My alarm is set for 5:00AM, but I wake up at 4:30AM, so decide to get up and start my journey early from Newberg to Monmouth, to the line of totality. The traffic on the road is quite heavy but it moves well, so the trip takes me just under an hour. After I arrive in Monmouth, there is a bit of confusion about our meeting point, but after a phone call to check-in with my two observing buddies I meet them on the astroturf field they have picked out for us. We are setting up at 6:45AM, before the staff at Western Oregon University are ready for us, but they are happy to have us there, so we get prime parking spots by the entrance to the field.

Solar Corona & prominences - photo by John McDonald - used with permission
Solar Corona & prominences – photo by John McDonald – used with permission

Six more of my group from Victoria show up at the same location to observe the eclipse together, which is a lot of fun. I take some video of the people on the field as well as our group to capture some of the pre-eclipse excitement. Unfortunately I am so excited during the eclipse, I lose my concentration when totality hits and forget to remove my solar filter from my camera’s telephoto lens, so all my photos of totality are black!

That said, this is perhaps the prettiest Total Solar Eclipse I have ever observed. Viewing through my binoculars reveals spectacular Diamond Rings both as totality starts (C2) and as it ends (C3), and there is a whole row of Bailey’s Beads, a good number of Solar Prominences, and the Sun’s corona has beautiful plasma streamers flowing off into space in several directions. Venus shows itself near the Sun visually before totality, so I take a wide field photo with my iPhone to capture the moment.

My Observing Report – a technical report of observational details, equipment used, location, fellow observers, and photographs

Gallery of Total Solar Eclipse photos taken by my fellow amateur astronomers (including my own photos) who are all members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Victoria Centre

2017 Total Solar Eclipse - phases banner
2017 Total Solar Eclipse – phases to totality

After we pack up our gear, our group goes to the Yeasty Beasty cafe in Monmouth for lunch. The cafe have eclipse-themed menus for both their beer and food. After sharing our experiences and decompressing a bit, I say my goodbyes and start the drive north to my hotel in Newberg. Some of the group follow me north, however the Tesla in-vehicle navigation suddenly routes us off Highway 99W which I took this morning, and takes us over several back roads before joining the highway again at McMinnville Airport. My friends peel off before I reach the highway, since they have an AirB&B rented in the area.

Once I rejoin the highway, I can see why the navigation redirected me over the back roads (Hwy 22 & 221) – the traffic on state highway 99W is at a near stand still. I creep along 99W for the last 10 miles to Newberg, taking two more hours! I’m concerned I won’t have enough battery power in my Tesla Model S to make it, so I turn off the air conditioning and put the car in Econo Mode to save as much power as possible. It is hellishly hot this afternoon, reaching 36ºC on the highway as we all sit there. Needless to say, I’m exhausted by the time I reach my hotel, some three hours after leaving Monmouth, however my car arrives with a comfortable 50% charge level, so in hindsight I had nothing to worry about!

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Lakewood to Newberg

2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Oregon road trip

August 20, 2017 – Lakewood, WA to Newburg, OR

I am up early and go for breakfast in the hotel’s breakfast room, where I meet a couple from the Netherlands who are travelling with a group of six to see the Total Solar Eclipse. They are planning to travel through the western USA after the eclipse. I pack up and leave the hotel, driving to the nearby Centralia Supercharger by 9AM for a recharge. Locals charging here tell me this Supercharger is never full, but it is full of my fellow eclipse-chasers this morning! After filling up, I join the I-5 freeway south through Portland on state highway 99W to the Best Western Newberg hotel. Traffic is heavy but moving well, considering the Oregon Highways Department is expecting 1.5 million extra visitors will be using the highways for the few days surrounding the eclipse date.

This afternoon, I assemble all my observing gear in the back of the hotel and ensure it all works as planned. I find out that my Kestrel weather station I plan to measure the temperature drop during the eclipse with doesn’t have the quick connect plate I need to attach it to the second tripod I brought along. So I get out the hockey tape and tape it directly to the ball head on top of the tripod. This jerry-rig works fine, so I’m all ready for tomorrow’s eclipse!

I have dinner at the Chehalem Valley Brewing Company, a local pub which is a short walk from the hotel, and then decide to drive to the Woodburn Supercharger this evening, which isn’t very far from Newberg. I want a good charge so I don’t have to stop to charge tomorrow on eclipse day. That works out fine, since there are empty spaces at the Supercharger and the traffic is light both ways.

Aerovironment L2 and L3 DC charger near my hotel in the back of a local gas station.
Pacific Coast Electric Highway L2 and L3 DC charger near my hotel in the back of a local gas station.

Earlier today when I arrived in Newberg, I found a fast DC charger near my hotel that is part of the Pacific Coast Electric Highway. Before leaving home, I joined the Aerovironment network that is required to make use of this charging network that covers the Washington, Oregon and California secondary highways. I’m also signed up to the Plugshare system, which can be used to pay for charging at these kiosks. It’s always wise to have a Plan B, especially when you expect there might be contention at the Tesla Superchargers!

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Victoria to Lakewood

2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Oregon road trip

August 19, 2017 – Victoria, BC, Canada to Lakewood, WA, USA

Slideshow of Victoria's Inner Harbour
Slideshow of Victoria’s Inner Harbour

I show up for the 7:30PM sailing of the Coho ferry a bit early at 5:40PM, but since we have to pre-clear US Customs, there are lots of others showing up early as well, so the parking lot is mostly full. I pre-clear US Customs and Immigration, and the Coho leaves on time at 7:30PM. It is a funky old ship, and very small – only taking just over 100 cars. I am jammed in, as is everyone – so much so, it’s difficult to get out of the car. Once we clear the harbour and get underway, the ship is rolling pretty well, despite it being a calm summer evening. I wouldn’t want to take this route when there are winter storms!

A half hour out of Victoria as we head for Port Angeles, I take out the Rogers SIM from my iPhone and install the Roam Mobility SIM, which flashes up after a few minutes. I fiddle with the cellular settings and soon get the LTE data working. For my 4 days on their daily plan I am allotted 512Mb/day, so I have 2Gb total up front – more than enough data service for this short trip. Total cost is about $20.

Tacoma Narrows bridge at sunset
Tacoma Narrows bridge at sunset

Despite pre-clearing US Customs and Immigration before we left Victoria, all vehicles are stopped before leaving the Port Angeles terminal to be sniffed by a dog and talk to yet another agent. It takes a bit over two hours to drive from Port Angeles, pay a US$6 toll to cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge, arriving just before midnight at the Best Western hotel in Lakewood. I would never have found the hotel in the dark without the in-vehicle navigation, since it is embedded in the outskirts of Tacoma.

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Total Solar Eclipse 2016 from Indonesia

March 9, 2016 – Wed – Total Solar Eclipse in Makasar Strait, Indonesia aboard the Volendam cruise ship

2016 – SE Asia and Total Solar Eclipse cruise

I get up at 6:30AM to prepare for the solar eclipse this morning. Of course when I get up on deck, there are lots of people already setup, but the ship is big and has lots of open deck space. I find a nice spot near the stern on the Sport Deck 9 and drag a lounge chair to sit on and to park my gear on as I setup next to the rail. Totality doesn’t happen until 8:35AM, so I have over an hour to wait until things start to happen. The ship is slowly cruising at 3-5 knots perpendicular to the eclipse centreline off the coast of Sulawesi in the Makasar Strait. Conditions are excellent, with calm seas, light winds, and although a bit cloudy, there are huge gaps between the clouds.

Joe on deck for the solar eclipse
Joe on deck for the solar eclipse

Due to the track of the ship, everyone is setup on the starboard side facing east. I setup my tripod, tape my Kestrel portable weather station to a nearby bollard, and decide to just aim my video camera out to sea in the direction of the Sun. I mount my camera on the tripod with the solar filter in place, and adjust it so I can remain seated while operating the camera. I’m soon taking photos of the partial phases of the eclipse as the Moon slides in front of the Sun after First Contact.

Fully eclipsed Sun with Venus and Mercury above observed from in the Java Sea aboard the Volendam in Indonesia
Fully eclipsed Sun with Venus and Mercury above observed from in the Java Sea aboard the Volendam in Indonesia

Totality soon arrives at 8:34:39AM at Second Contact. Bailey’s Beads are visible all red and sparkly on the left side of the solar disk at the start. By midpoint in Totality, they are also visible on the other side of the solar disk…a beautiful display! Of course, plasma streamers are flowing away from the Sun, with a bit of a gap in the flow at the 4 o’clock position. Both Venus and Mercury are clearly visible above the Sun during Totality, and as it ends, a huge, bright Diamond Ring pops out – a real treat, and the brightest I’ve observed!

My weather station measures the temperature drop during the eclipse at only 1.5°C. I’m a bit surprised at how little the air cooled off, but I expect the air mixing at sea level reduced this effect similarly as it did with the 2012 Eclipse when I was aboard the Paul Gauguin in the Coral Sea. I don’t stick around to watch the last partial phase of the eclipse, packing up my gear and leaving by 9AM. Once 4th Contact is over, the ship turns around and heads south through the Makassar Strait to the Java Sea, heading to Komodo Island, our next port-of-call the day after tomorrow. This is a 500 mile run for them to get us on position this morning.

The diamond ring and lots of plasma streamers as Totality ends
The diamond ring and lots of plasma streamers as Totality ends

The captain and the rest of the bridge crew did an outstanding job getting us to the centreline of the eclipse this morning. The captain made his decision last night on our final position based on meteorological reports, and it worked out beautifully. We had some clouds, but there were huge gaps, and Totality was observed under perfectly clear conditions.

My detailed eclipse observation log

After getting cleaned up, I go up to the Explorations Cafe to have a celebratory cappuccino, since I missed breakfast this morning. That keeps me going, so I can quickly extract three photos and post a brief message on Facebook to tell my friends I had success with the eclipse. They almost immediately respond, saying that they virtually observed the eclipse from a feed coming from somewhere in Micronesia. It is a connected world!

Map of ship's movement to and from eclipse centreline in the Makassar Strait
Map of ship’s movement to and from eclipse centreline in the Makassar Strait

Shortly after Noon, I go to the main dining room for some much-needed lunch, and compare notes about the eclipse with everyone around the table. We are all thrilled to have had the chance to observe the eclipse…both dedicated eclipse chasers and regular travellers alike.

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2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise in SE Asia

Feb/Mar 2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise map in SE Asia aboard the Volendam

2016 Solar Eclipse Cruise map in SE Asia aboard the Volendam

In March 2015, I booked a Holland America cruise in southeast Asia, which takes me to the southeast Asian countries of: Singapore, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Volendam leaves Singapore on February 16, 2016 on the 30-DAY ASIAN ADVENTURE & INDONESIAN SOLAR ECLIPSE COLLECTOR cruise, sailing north to Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar and Thailand before returning 15 days later to Singapore. We spend two nights in Singapore, and then depart again on the Solar Eclipse portion of the cruise, which sails south to a variety of ports in Indonesia. We observe the solar eclipse on March 9th in the Makasar Strait, between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi. Weather permitting, our ship will be positioned on the eclipse centreline, which will give us 2 minutes and 45.5 seconds of totality. The cruise terminates in Singapore with an overnight at the dock on March 16 & 17.

My booking is actually two back-to-back cruises, both departing from Singapore. I am paying the Single Supplement (150% of one fare) for a cabin on the Main Deck. As I write this in November 2015, Holland America indicates some classes of cabins on this cruise are Sold Out.

The Sun in eclipse totality - 3rd contact & diamond ring

The Sun in eclipse totality – 3rd contact & diamond ring

Sky and Telescope are running their solar eclipse tour aboard the same ship, however I did not book with them since I wanted a 30 day cruise, and their arrangements are for either 9 days or 15 days. I board the Volendam two weeks earlier in Singapore than the S&T tour’s departure date and visit three more SE Asian countries, which appeals to me. The downside to booking directly with Holland America instead of through S&T is that I won’t be able to attend their enrichment presentations while aboard the ship. To be honest, I don’t much care about this, since there are only two or three of their presentations I would want to attend. I don’t really need any coaching on the technical aspects of observing a solar eclipse while aboard a ship, since I have experience from the 2012 Solar Eclipse Cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin in the Coral Sea.

In May 2015 I booked my flights from Vancouver to Singapore through Cathay Pacific airline. This is optimum timing from the departure date to get the best fare possible. If I booked this fare today (some six months later), the airfare would cost many hundreds of dollars more, since it is closer to the departure date.

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2012 Total Solar Eclipse

November 14, 2012 – Wednesday – Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun – observed from aboard the Paul Gauguin cruise ship sailing about 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral Sea

Map of 2012 Solar Eclipse track in the South Pacific
Map of 2012 Solar Eclipse track in the South Pacific

I am up at 5:30AM, beating my alarm by a few minutes. Skipping breakfast, I gather my eclipse gear and setup on the Pool Deck. I mount my Kestrel 4500 portable weather station on a nearby towel deposit box, and also mount my little Fuji point-and-shoot camera on the same box to take some HD video during Totality (and a minute before and after).

My observing log entry for the eclipse:

Date/Time – local ship’s time
Start: Nov 14, 2012 6:49AM
Finish: Nov 14, 2012 8:12AM

Location: On the totality track 200km south of New Caledonia in the Coral sea, South Pacific. Position: 26° 40′ 0″ S 166° 46′ 54″ E

Observers: 320 passengers (and some crew) on board the Paul Gauguin cruise ship

I observe a total solar eclipse from the pool deck of the cruise ship Paul Gauguin, as part of a TravelQuest tour group. Rick Fienberg and Bill Kramer, in cooperation with Captain Ante-Toni Mirkovic decide to turn the ship 180° just before 1st Contact in order to avoid a large cloud which is starting to obscure the view of the Sun. This proves to be a good move, since we are now slowly sailing away from the clouds in the area, and yet continue to stay within the maximum totality centreline track.

  • 1st Contact 6:57:20AM Alt=26º
  • 2nd Contact 8:01:20AM Alt=40º
  • Totality lasts 3 minutes, 1 second
  • 3rd Contact 8:04:21AM Alt=40º
  • 4th Contact 9:16:47AM Alt=57º
The Sun in eclipse totality - 3rd contact & diamond ring
The Sun in eclipse totality – 3rd contact & diamond ring

A few minutes before 2nd Contact, my portable weather station records the expected sharp drop in temperature (see graph below), and the light levels are greatly reduced. About 10 minutes before 2nd Contact, Venus is visible to the left of the Sun, and then as darkening continues, Saturn also appears equidistant between Venus and the Sun.

A dramatic darkening occurs during totality (2nd Contact to 3rd Contact). During totality, I visually observe spectacular coronal streamers. Although I do not find that Bailey’s Beads are easily observed during this eclipse, I observe a red glow around parts of the perimeter of the Sun and some solar prominences are visible.

There is lots of hooting and hollering as the (second) spectacular diamond ring appears at 3rd Contact. I capture these human reactions to experiencing a total solar eclipse using a point-and-shoot camera in HD video mode.

I stop observing and photographing the eclipse shortly after 3rd Contact, although I continue to take temperature readings to the end.

Everyone has a smile on his or her face after the event is over, and there are lots of stories told afterward at lunch and dinner. Despite it only being 9:30 in the morning, Corona beer and cocktails are served to celebrate our success. I have a celebratory cappuccino, and finally have my breakfast mid-morning at La Palette.

2012 Total Solar Eclipse – Bill Kramer’s Eclipse Chasers website, including his personal report and links to other reports


Air temperature during the 2012 Total Solar Eclipse while aboard the Paul Gauguin in the Coral Sea
Air temperature during the 2012 Total Solar Eclipse while aboard the Paul Gauguin in the Coral Sea

I take temperature measurements from my position on the Pool Deck before, during and after totality. My readings are measured with a Kestrel 4500 personal weather station, which is mounted about one metre above the ship’s deck.

6:57AM 23.2ºC – 1st Contact
7:20AM 22.0ºC
7:39AM 20.9ºC
7:55AM 20.5ºC
8:01AM 20.2ºC – 2nd Contact
8:04AM 19.8ºC – 3rd Contact
8:12AM 20.3ºC
8:25AM 21.3ºC
9:00AM 24.2ºC
9:16AM 24.0ºC – 4th Contact
12:20PM 20.4ºC

The temperature drop is 3.5ºC, which is much lower than expected. Obviously the mild climate near the ocean’s surface results in less daytime heating, and therefore less temperature range is covered for this eclipse at this location.

I dedicate the temperature measurements I took during this eclipse to the memory of Jim Low, a long time member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre. If Jim had survived, I’m sure he would have traveled with his fellow Toronto Centre members to Australia, and would have recorded the temperature drop, as he did when I traveled with this group to observe the Total Solar Eclipse (my first) from the Libyan Sahara Desert in 2006.

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Total Solar Eclipse – Libyan Sahara

2006 Total Solar Eclipse – Libya

March 29, 2006 – Wednesday – Total Solar Eclipse Day

After our long drive across the desert yesterday, everyone is well-rested and ready to go this morning. Breakfast is a bun and some cheese from Mahmood Poonja (Bestway Tours & Safaris). Then a few of us go over to the coffee shop for our morning coffee before setting up for the eclipse.

First item of business for most of us is equipment checks and setup. We have lots of curious Libyans and fellow campers from around the world asking us questions about ourselves, our equipment, and (in the case of the Libyans) what we thought of their country. The atmosphere is very energized! We have two weathermen with us, as well as a half dozen experienced eclipse chasers who I find personally very helpful.

Patrick, Marvin and I all wear our Ghutras, which cause all sorts of fellow eclipse chasers and Libyans to either take our pictures, or want pictures taken with themselves standing beside one (or all) of us. We ditch the Ghutras after the eclipse is over. Lunch is served around 3pm, which thankfully is very well organized today.

As we count down to First Contact, people are really getting excited. Finally, “first contact” is shouted out, and we all look up (through filtered glasses) to see the first chunk of the Sun being eclipsed by the Moon. What a strange sight! Over the next few minutes more and more of the Sun is eclipsed, until we feel the temperature of the Saharan heat start to drop. Next comes a strange colour change of the surrounding light. As things start to darken more, the temperature drops more – a total of 7 or 8°C by the end according to one of my fellow observers, Jim Low, who is measuring the temperature throughout the eclipse.

At Second Contact, the Moon totally eclipses the Sun, and the Diamond Ring (see image below) appears for a brief few seconds, closely followed by Bailey’s Beads and solar prominences. What a sight, and it happens so quickly! Then for 4 minutes we have the total eclipse to enjoy viewing and photographing. The Sun’s corona is magnificent, with streamers of plasma flowing outward from the Sun. I am taking photographs all through the sequence. The full eclipse phase is so strange, since no solar filters are needed to observe the Sun while it is fully-eclipsed by the Moon. I can appreciate why some people become so emotional during an eclipse.

Total Solar Eclipse - Libyan Sahara Desert - March 29, 2006
Total Solar Eclipse – Libyan Sahara Desert – March 29, 2006

Too soon we come to Third Contact, where we have to again use solar filters, since the energy of the Sun is now back at close to full strength. Some of our group observe until Fourth Contact, making observations along the way. Being less dedicated, I stop photographing during this phase, and just enjoyed the occasional glance at the eclipsed Sun through my filtered binoculars.

A solar eclipse can be enjoyed in many ways – direct observation, photography, and observing changes in the light, ambient temperature and wildlife in the area, or just sharing the experience with others. We have a great group, with everyone helping each other to enjoy the experience. We do a fair bit of ambassadorship for Canada, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and astronomy in general – “Sidewalk Astronomy” in the Sahara!

So I have observed my first total solar eclipse from the middle of the Libyan Sahara Desert – very exciting! Bailey’s Beads, the Diamond Ring, solar flares and the corona were all superb as viewed though my binoculars and through my Canon EF 400mm L series telephoto lens on my Canon Digital Rebel dSLR. The photos I take of the event turn out very well.

We depart Eclipse Camp around 4pm bound for Benghazi, and arrive back in the Garyounis Resort at about 10pm. After a quick dinner, I shower off that desert sand and then go to bed. It has been a long, but very rewarding day! The eclipse was a tremendous success, with the weather being absolutely perfect.

واحـ جالو ـــة سائح و كسوف – An Arabic language version of this page by Wahtjalo Webmaster (my material used with permission)

Total Solar Eclipse 2006
32 photos, 1 video
A sign welcoming us to the eclipse camp
A sign welcoming us to the eclipse camp
Our bus stuck in the sand at Eclipse Camp, being pulled out
Our bus stuck in the sand at Eclipse Camp, being pulled out
A Libyan man in front of his shop
A Libyan man in front of his shop
Shops setup in the camp
Shops setup in the camp
Stephen Beddingfield draws on a water pipe while Joe Schwartz and Nancy Speed look on
Stephen Beddingfield draws on a water pipe while Joe Schwartz and Nancy Speed look on
Scout troop & Patrick MacDonald on 2006 Solar Eclipse Day
Scout troop & Patrick MacDonald on 2006 Solar Eclipse Day
Geoff and Louise taking a nutrition break
Geoff and Louise taking a nutrition break
Ralph Chu ready to observe and photograph the eclipse
Ralph Chu ready to observe and photograph the eclipse
Ralph Chu ready to observe and photograph the eclipse
Ralph Chu ready to observe and photograph the eclipse
Joe, Marvin and Patrick setup and ready to observe the eclipse
Joe, Marvin and Patrick setup and ready to observe the eclipse
Libyan scouts doing an eclipse dance
Libyan scouts doing an eclipse dance
Libyan scouts doing an eclipse dance
Libyan scouts doing an eclipse dance
Lucy with her telescope setup
Lucy with her telescope setup
Eclipsed Sun images projected onto Lucy Winnicki's face through her straw hat
Eclipsed Sun images projected onto Lucy Winnicki’s face through her straw hat
Joe wearing his ghutra
Joe wearing his ghutra
Our group observing the solar eclipse
Our group observing the solar eclipse
Stephen Beddingfield observing the eclipse
Stephen Beddingfield observing the eclipse
Joe lending his bincoculars to a Libyan to view the Sun with
Joe lending his bincoculars to a Libyan to view the Sun with
Joe lends his filtered binoculars to a Libyan to observe the Sun
Joe lends his filtered binoculars to a Libyan to observe the Sun
Patrick, Marvin and Joe wearing their Libyan clothing on Eclipse Day
Patrick, Marvin and Joe wearing their Libyan clothing on Eclipse Day
Joe with his eclipse photography setup wearing a ghutra
Joe with his eclipse photography setup wearing a ghutra
Ralph Chou, Jim Low, Doug Bulgin & Marvin Goody setting up for the eclipse
Ralph Chou, Jim Low, Doug Bulgin & Marvin Goody setting up for the eclipse
Joe and a young Libyan man share the experience on eclipse day
Joe and a young Libyan man share the experience on eclipse day
Our group in the commissary
Our group in the commissary
Ali and Mahmood Poonja, Bestway Tour organizers smoking the Water Pipe
Ali and Mahmood Poonja, Bestway Tour organizers smoking the Water Pipe
VIP helicopters land
VIP helicopters land
The Internet cafe tent
The Internet cafe tent
Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar EclipseTotal Solar Eclipse
Total Solar EclipseTotal Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse composite of the phases
Total Solar Eclipse composite of the phases
A sandstorm kicks up after the eclipse is over
A sandstorm kicks up after the eclipse is over
RASC Solar Eclipse group in the Sahara Desert in 2006
RASC Solar Eclipse group in the Sahara Desert in 2006
A parade of SUV's leaving the Eclipse Camp
A parade of SUV’s leaving the Eclipse Camp
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Benghazi to Eclipse Camp

2006 Total Solar Eclipse – Libya

March 28, 2006 – Tuesday – Benghazi to Eclipse Camp

We leave at 8AM this morning on our bus headed to the Eclipse Camp, south of Jalu. After stopping to pick up some water and box lunches, we finally get underway at 9:30am. We make several pit stops along the way, including a lunch stop on the roadside. We see some sheep and camels being herded beside the road.

Location of Eclipse Camp south of Jalu
Location of Eclipse Camp south of Jalu

On the way down to the eclipse camp, we go through multiple security check points. Security has been high throughout this trip – we have Tourist Police aboard our bus at all times, as well as our Numidia Tours guide and our driver. The Libyans are taking no chances of any “tourist incidents” happening for this Solar Eclipse event!

We have arrived at the eclipse camp! My GPS says we are at N28° 13′ 48″ E21° 30′ 44″. This camp is amazing:

  • Hundreds of tents in each of three large sites
  • Commissary/dining hall
  • Souvenir and coffee shops
  • Showers and flush toilet latrines – running water delivered by a steady stream of tanker trucks
  • Wireless Internet and telephones – electricity from a generator running 24 hrs/day

This evening the organizers in the dining hall lose control of the crowd of 500-1,000 who show up for dinner around 8pm. Libyans are crashing the line, pushing the tourists back – a bad scene. Most of my group eat dinner around 9pm. Needless to say, we are exceedingly hungry by then! I find a small stuffed camel in one of the shops, which will make a nice gift for someone special when I return home.

There are perhaps 500-1,000 people at our camp, and I can see at least two other camps nearby. Everyone is excited to finally be at our destination – the reason for our long journey. After some supper, most of us adjourn to a coffee shop setup in the desert, and shoot the breeze for awhile, then retire to our tents. We were all tired after being in the bus and on the road for 8 hours, so sleeping in the desert is a fitting end to the day.