Eclipse Reflections

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Photo by Bill Allen

Click Here to see Richard's Video of the Totality (238K)

Stephen Voss' Photos and Video from Ceduna

I saw first contact through our Hydrogen-Alpha telescope. What a sight to see the sun spots and prominences and watch the moon nibble away at the red disc. We grabbed our camera and other gear (including a spoon with holes to do "pin-hole camera" crescents) and trudged up the Martian landscape of Ideyaka Hill against a gale force wind.

When the light level dropped, I felt that tingly shiver of anticipation, knowing it was minutes away. After being to several eclipses, I sort of knew what was coming, but also knew that each eclipse is unique.

It seemed like the light was being sucked up and drawn into a black hole until all that remained was the shining spot of the diamond ring, and then it too was swallowed up. And there, on Ideyaka Hill in the Outback of Australia, I was once again privileged to stand in the shadow of the Moon.

This eclipse, because of our position near the terminator (close to sunset) we could see a very distinct cone of shadow below the sun and stretching behind us to the east. It was amazing. I took but a few seconds to glance eastward. Then focused my eyes on the shimmering purple-like inner corona and white outer corona. What was that at 8 o’clock? The second diamond ring already? What a brief but wonderful 27 seconds! We cheered, we hugged, we clapped. How great it is to share such a magnificent event with such great people. As our bonus, we got to see the crescent sun setting. It went down like a boomerang, then split into two horns, and each set separately. A shining sail-like wedge was the last to sink below the horizon, like a tall ship sailing away.

Helen Mahoney

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Helen focuses the Hydrogen Alpha Scope     

Anticipation, standing on top, in the middle of nowhere, buffeted by wind and dust. Exhilaration as the long awaited moment draws toward that magical moment no words can describe. The diamond ring, 27 seconds of incredible beauty. Euphoria shared with friends. Partying. When is the next one?

Annette Knox

My third. I was ready to be pretty blasé about it when we got to the top of the hill. I couldn’t decide if we were just outside of Luke’s Uncle’s but on Tatoonie on Mars or heading for the Nexus on Star Trek. The eclipse was far different than I thought. The light cone, the reduced darkness, the lack of large corona. It was different and absolutely thrilling. I really did feel like I was on a different planet. Far, far too short. The second trial was the somnambulistic sunset. A crescent sun with each horn sitting separately. "Bloody rippa". Party was wonderful except that without a great stroke of luck we would still be stumbling about looking for our tent.

Doug Millar

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"Look Tim, they came to see the sun!"

My main remembrance early on was battling the wind and flies and trying to get everything situated. But once we actually sat down on our chairs and started looking through our eclipse glasses, I forgot about the wind and became completely focused on the experience at hand.

The corona was very nice. Not as widespread as Turkey, but still great. What really grabbed me was the cone of darkness below the sun and the same cone behind us. I spun around and took in that and the 360 degree sunset. By the time I turned around and looked at the corona a few more seconds, it was over.

A great eclipse and a perfect location. The rave party of our own afterwards was quite nice and a good buzz was had by all.

Nelson Copp

I felt a moderate amount of anticipation at seeing the eclipse. It was like landing on Mars. Rocks and next to no vegetation. Very appropriate since we were going to look a the sun and moon! And it wouldn’t be a true eclipse unless we interacted with the locals, fought the elements (the blasted wind) and had great prospects for food and drink.

The eclipse itself was awesome - way too short - leaving me to want much more. The strangeness of the light; dull, yellow. The incredible hourglass shadow directly in front of and behind us. The corona with higher peaked prominence on the top at 12:00 o’clock and much less on the bottom. No time to look at Bailey’s Beads but a spectacular diamond ring at the end. Sunset was spectacular and different. What another extraordinary experience.

Debra Copp

The speed was a little overwhelming. There was barely time to digest a bit of one phenomenon before a new phase started. For example, the shadow. It took me a awhile to perceive it and there was no time to wonder at it. Seeing everything for the first time, there was a lot to learn how to see.

Anyway, lets run through. I was a little dazzled at the start of totality having taken off the eclipse glasses a tad before the ingress diamond ring. I was juggling the glasses and camera in an attempt to catch the shadow sweeping in. I saw the first 10-15 seconds through the viewfinder as I snapped off a couple of frames. Images of a landscape right out of science fiction (I hope!).

During this time I took one look (and shot) behind me to see the shadow on the land behind us. Then I concentrated on trying to commit some of the scene to memory. I have a clear recollection of marveling at the white ring of the inner corona, over the rubble-strewn plain. The sky seemed purplish with a faint white haze I took the be the far reaches of the corona, or scattered light. I was surprised not to see more extended coronal emission, and can’t recall seeing structure in it. I could not see any crimson emission around the limb of the moon, but didn’t have time to look carefully. I got a good imprint (not literally!) of the egress diamond ring. Shortly after putting my glasses on, I remembered the binoculars around my neck!

I watched the sunset carefully and took a dozen photos of the different arrangements of sun, moon and horizon. The shark fin shape of the sun just before it disappeared was very memorable

Reactions? I was elated, awed, stunned, gob-smacked. I wasn’t afraid at all, just transfixed. Time was so compressed! Advice for first-timers: You will need a least 2 minutes of totality to give yourself time to cope with what your are seeing. Forge the camera, take binocs and a tape recorder.

Vince McIntyre

According to my video record of the event, as seen by us on the hilltop of Ideyaka, S.A., we were close enough to the centre line to have seen a totality lasting 26.5 seconds. There was little evidence of Bailey’s Beads, but a good diamond ring start and finish. The brightest part of the corona was compact, somewhat square in shape with several good spikes. The chromosphere was visible in the binoculars, but not as prominently as expected in comparison with the 1995 eclipse in India, for which totality lasted about 45 seconds so that the moon’s disk fitted inside the chromosphere. There was an extended prominence across one small sector.

Subjectively, this was a fascinating sight with a low altitude sun/moon and a clear sunset of the partially eclipsed sun. The appearance was pretty accurately predicted by Red Shift 4.

My video record was made by setting the camera on its tripod about 4 seconds before second contact and letting it run ‘till it was all over. My conclusion is that for short eclipse, forget doing any elaborate photography!

P.S. The low altitude gave rise to magnificent shafts of moon shadow across the sky (already dimming as twilight approached).

Richard Knox

Webmaster’s note: I am grateful to Richard for his efforts, as he was the only one of us who took videotape of the totality! The rest of us had decided to forget doing any elaborate photography!

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Richard's Video Captures of the totality

As a world class card-carrying worrier with only 27 seconds of totality in the Outback eclipse, I easily worked up to worry overdrive.

Will that magical intense awe return?
Really, how long is 27 seconds in eclipse time?
Where do I focus? Bailey's beads? Diamond ring? Corona? Shadow cone? Streamers? Prominences?
Good grief!

The outback winds challenge me for the hill top. No worries. I plant my feet firmly. After everything to get here, I am not going to be blown off Ideyaka Hill.

First contact. The speed of the moving shadow edge and thinning crescent surprise me. I try to absorb every change, second by second.

Pop! I inhale completely surprised. I'm stunned. It's happened. It's totality. We have totality. Four seconds gone.

Corona first. What a compact tight little corona! How different! A mere pearlescent ruff around the black. There it is again, the black, the blackest black. I smile. Are those stubby rays the streamers? I can't find the prominences that I saw in Helen and Doug's telescope.

It’s over. Twenty seven seconds gone. How could it be over?

The essence:
However brief, totality remains breathtaking, majestic, magical. Less than four years until Turkey.

Carolyn Moser

This is my first eclipse trip. When I first saw that little bite out of the sun I was very excited. We went up to the hill with chairs and "binocs". The light was very strange. It was very dusky as if the sun was setting but it was still in the sky. We saw some cattle who thought it was night time so they were all going to the barn to get fed. We waited for awhile and looked through our glasses until suddenly it was dark. It wasn’t a black dark. The sky was very pink and purple. I looked at the sun again but it wasn’t there. Instead there was a black dot in the middle of the sky. Around it was the gleaming corona. The corona seemed different than the pictures. It was so, so, so colorful. I can’t explain the colors or else I would take up the whole page. It was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, silver, pink and many more. Suddenly there was a big flash. The diamond ring! In the bottom corner there was a bright hole. All the colors faded and it was just the same old crescent sun. Funny to think of a crescent sun. The 360 degree sunset was now gone. There was lots of hugging, crying and cheering. PARTY TIME!

Becky Williams (aka Bicky) Age 11

Several things were unique to me about this eclipse, reinforcing the fact that each one ha its own personality. Most obvious was our isolation on a dusty and quite windy hilltop in central Australia. Though two other groups of eclipse chasers could be seen on adjacent hilltops, we were miles and miles from the nearest "town" across a landscape resembling the surface of the Mars. Nothing looking manmade was noted to the WSW, the direction of centerline. The eerie light that precedes and follows the eclipse is really beyond words (like trying to describe the color red to a blind man, I heard), but I know that in those times I feel more alive and more connected to the universe than at any other time. Closest to that feeling is what you feel like after climbing a difficult peak. Totality was much shorter than my other 3 (Baja, Caribbean and Turkey). It didn’t allow much study of details of the corona or prominences. I also didn’t see any stars or planets. What was striking though was the cone of darkness that extended along the center line quite unlike any other I had seen.

Once again, the best part is to share it with wonderful friends and to see it through Becky’s eyes as well.

Can’t wait to be in the shadow again.

Howard Williams

My fourth eclipse. The build-up and where we'll be in the world is so much of the excitement. The actual eclipse has never let me down either. Each one has been its own wonder. This one was so different, being at sunset, that I had no idea what to expect. The V-shaped shadow extending upward was quite impressive. Being able to see the landscape at the same time as totality was fantastic. I was one of those people that really did think that the wind stopped for those few magical seconds. One of my greatest joys has proven to be the people that come into our lives because of these events. Some of those people pass back out but then return for the next eclipse and it seems that months have passed instead of years. What wonderful friends we've made all over the world because of these events.

Kathy Williams

For me, this eclipse was memorable for three reasons. The first of those is how big the eclipsed sun appeared in the sky. The "Great Moon Illusion" is that a full moon near the horizon appears much bigger than one high in the sky. This eclipse, being so low in the sky, I would swear was the biggest I’ve seen. In the blur that was totality, I spent just a few seconds after second contact looking through my binoculars, but didn’t feel I was seeing too much more than with the naked eye – chronosphere extending ¼ of the way around the sun from 12 0’clock to 3 o’clock, and two prominences at 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock.

The second thing that stood out for me was the moon’s shadow. It arrived more as a gradual and even darkening around the sun rather than the black "cone of death" I’d anticipated. During totality, it extended on a narrow band navy blue in colour clear across to the NE horizon, but with no foreshortening. It seemed almost cylindrical.

The third thing that made this one special was being able to share it with my parents. I owe them a lot (most of all my eyesight, without which an eclipse would be somewhat less of an experience), and this was one way of saying thinks. I’m not sure they were able to take it all in – this was really an eclipse for connoisseurs, not beginners – but having met my fellow eclipse chasers, perhaps they won’t think I’m quite so crazy after all.

Stuart Ryder

This eclipse makes 4 out of 4 for me. This is probably due to the careful research of Dave’s to get to the best site – clear site.

One of the best things is meeting up with the group again after 3 years. It’s just like seeing them last week! The site appeared to me as I imagine the moon to look like. The wind was something else. The eclipse itself was so quick but very bright and sharp Wonderful diamond rings It was very intense. I did not have time to use my binoculars. However the sunset followed and the sun looked like a boat dropping into the water back end first as it was still mainly covered by the moon. The eclipse party to follow was good fun. A big thank you to all who helped to make it such a success.

Rose Allen

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This eclipse was my fourth and quite different from the previous ones. Prior to totality I could not see any stars or planets, however at totality the moon’s disk was much larger, and not as black as previous events. Prior to totality and after totality the shadow cone was very easily seen. At totality I viewed the corona and prominences with binoculars. The red prominences appeared right around the disc, a striking red/silver colour. The wind made it difficult to hold the binoculars steady however the sight at the prominences was unforgettable. The corona to the naked eye appeared "creamier" to me probably due to low altitude. The diamond rings before and after were very bright, especially at the conclusion of totality in my binoculars! Like all previous events the fun and excitement after the eclipse was very special and the friendly nature of all those viewing the eclipse and the relief that we saw the event in cloudless skies for a fourth time – again.! I would like to thank Dave and Stuart for organising a great trip and all those attending for being great company.

Bill Allen

All eclipses have their pre-eclipse drama. This one was the locked gate. After spending 2.5 hours in Lyndhurst waiting for the key and watching the weirdoes, we drove to the gate, removed the hinges and went on through.

The eclipse had the usual build-up of excitement. We arrived at our chosen hilltop and were greeted with 40 knot winds. Found a campsite sheltered from the wind and had a hors d’oeuvre party.

On the hill we waited with anticipation but with no worries about the weather. The sky had been cloudless all day and was still clear to the horizon in every direction.

Second contact! Diamond ring – corona popped out – then noticed the amazing shadow cone. Turned around 360 degrees and saw the retreating shadow cone also. Turned back around just in time for a few more seconds of corona. Then – all too soon – diamond ring again – corona fades.

I felt a little sorry for those who saw this as their first eclipse. It must have been like a very small taste of a big chocolate bar which was quickly taken away. To me, it was extra special to add another 27 seconds of the most amazing phenomenon on earth to my life. And then there was the great relief that Stuart and I wouldn’t be stoned had we picked a cloudy location.

The setting crescent sun was quite beautiful. First the crescent split at the horizon. The right horn set, leaving a shark-fin shaped left horn. Due to the clear skies, it was still extremely bright – too bright to use binocs.

Back down the hill it was party time, champagne and dinner, followed by the darkest sky I’ve ever seen. The Magellenic Clouds and Orion dominated the inky blackness. Vince gave a great informal introduction to the southern sky. I think I remember some of it through the haze of reverie and alcohol...

Dave Moser

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Richard's video capture of sunset

Click Here to see Richard's Video of the Sunset (670K)