Eclipses

Totality


My wife Chantal and I have experienced one annular and nine total solar eclipses.   We enjoyed beautifully clear skies in all cases but one, when a nasty thunderstorm spoiled the fun. Of course we don't travel to the other end of the world just for the eclipse; we also use it as an excuse to visit some wonderful places.

We usually don't make pictures during totality; we prefer to fully enjoy the moment (the shortest totality we experienced lasted for only 21 seconds). Instead the pictures below show the area where we experienced our eclipses, and some other highlights of the trips.

Foto left: Ludo Wouters (Zambia, 2001)


A total solar eclipse is a spectacular and very emotional event. No one describes it better than Mr. Eclipse aka Fred Espenak himself:

The total eclipse of the Sun is the most spectacular event in all of Nature. Few people have ever witnessed one, but once seen it is an experience never to be forgotten. The Moon's dark shadow plunges you into an eerie twilight and the Sun's mysterious and incredibly beautiful corona is revealed. Photographs offer but a pale reflection of the eclipse experience.

There are plenty of web sites describing what you can see during a total solar eclipse; just browse around. For information on time and place of the next eclipse, visit the NASA solar eclipse page. It provides eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak with an amazing level of detail and accuracy.


August 11, 1999: Reims, France

Reims eclipse site

We saw our first eclipse In this corn field near Reims (my good friend Dirk is left in the picture; my broad head is hopefully a perspective effect). The clouds parted right before totality! I was so moved by the overall experience that I decided then and there: I want to be in the moon's shadow again… and again.


June 21, 2001: Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia eclipse site

The eclipse site not too far from Lusaka. Clear skies! And an impressive corona. When can we do this again?

Victoria falls Elephant

Vicoria falls on the Zambezi river at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. They form the largest sheet of falling water in the world (the picture captures only a small portion). During our safari in the Kruger park, South Africa, this large elephant came a bit too close for comfort - I had no zoom lens at the time!


December 4, 2002: Lyndhurst, Australia

Australia eclipse site

Our eclipse site was deep in the Australian outback north of Adelaide, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest man-made structure. The terrain is flat as a billiard table, and very dusty. There was some worry that a dust haze might block our view, since the eclipse occurred very low above horizon near sunset. But - clear skies! As a bonus we saw the sun set while it was still partially eclipsed: unforgettable.

Ayers rock Blue Mountains

Left: Uluru (Ayers rock) is a large sandstone rock formation in central Australia, here seen from a helicopter.
Right: the Blue Mountains (a few hours drive from Sydney) are perfect for hiking and viewing wildlife.


October 3, 2005: Madrid, Spain

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We viewed this annular eclipse from a nice site near Madrid under a crystal-clear sky. While you can't see the sun's corona during an annular eclipse, the experience is still unique. The photo on the left was taken by our friend Ludo Wouters at the time of maximum eclipse. The other picture shows my wife Chantal looking at the sun. Of course we also spent a few days in the sparkling city of Madrid.


March 29, 2006: Antalya, Turkey

Turkey eclipse site

Our eclipse site near Antalya, with a great view towards the sea (barely visible on the picture) and the onrushing moon shadow. Another perfect eclipse under a spotless blue sky!

Cappadocia Pamukkale

Left: Cappadocia, an area with a rich history and intriguing rock dwellings topped by fairy tale chimneys.
Right: Pamukkale's splendid terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from hot springs.


August 1, 2008: Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Mongolia eclipse site

The most impressive eclipse site ever! Imagine standing on a small hill in the middle of a huge flat valley bordered by pastel-colored mountain ranges on the horizon all around, with a perfect 360 degree view. And cool blue skies!

Experiencing a total solar eclipse from a spot like this is an unprecedented privilege. It can't be described in words.

Altai mountains Khongor sand dune

Left: a range of the Altai mountains viewed from a grassy plane in the Gobi desert; talking about pastel colors…
Right: the Khongor sand dune at the edge of the Gobi desert (the Gobi itself is a stony desert, there is no loose sand).


July 22, 2009: Jinshan, China

China eclipse location China partial eclipse

The beach of jinshan (near Shanghai) is clearly well prepared for the hordes of eclipse viewers. Alas, the weather isn't. Before it starts pouring water, I can take this nice snapshot of the partially eclipsed sun through the clouds. No filter needed! The thunderstorm breaks loose before totality starts - no luck this time.

Jiuzhaigou national park Huanglong national parkPanda Base Terra Cotta Warriors

Top row: Chantal and Peter in the Jiuzhaigou national park; a waterfall in the Huanglong national park.
Bottom row: a really cute panda in the Panda Base near Chengdu; the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian.


July 11, 2010: Hanga Roa, Easter Island

Easter Island eclipse site Moai

Rapa Nui (Easter Island): the most remote island on earth, and a place full of mystique. We got permission to view the eclipse in a sacred area on the beach, surrounded by the large Moai (monolithic stone statues) for which the island is renowned. It had been raining for two days straight, and it was still clouded. The group was tense. But the sky cleared in time, and we had a fantastic eclipse experience in this unique location.

View in Chile

On this trip we also toured Northern Chile. This is just one of the many amazing landscapes we encountered.

ALMA

And here I pose in front of one of the ALMA radio telescopes at the ALMA Operations Support Facility (2900 m altitude). The antenna is tested here before it is transported to the Chajnantor plateau (5000 m altitude).


November 3, 2013: Gulu, Uganda

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The eclipse site is less than 3° from the equator. It is rainy season, thus afternoons are mostly cloudy, but we are incredibly lucky: the sky is clear! Today's eclipse is hybrid: it starts annular and becomes total by the time it reaches us; i.e. the moon's disk just covers the sun. Totality is brief, but truly of an unsurpassed beauty.

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Visiting the gorilla's in Bwindi national park is an unforgettable experience. The wildlife in the various other parks in Uganda is plentyful. We took these pictures with a maximum zoom of only 10x; just imagine being this close to these wonderful animals, in their natural habitat.


August 21, 2017: John Day, Oregon, U.S.A.

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Yet another marvellous eclipse site, on a hillside overlooking the John Day Highway. The land-owners graciously allowed our group to use this area — thank you so much! Just before totality, we clearly saw the moon’s shadow rush towards us from across the valley; a very intimidating experience. Followed by another successful eclipse viewing!

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The Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, just over an hour's drive from our eclips viewing site.

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We also visited Crate Lake National Park, a bit further south in Oregon. Around noon a lot of smoke drifted in from nearby wildfires, so we couldn’t do the planned hike. Fortunately, the view is spectacular even from the lower rim. 


We plan to stand in the moon's shadow again ...


© Peter Camps 2013-2017