Dear Family and Friends,
The main purpose of this trip was to witness the total solar eclipse that occurred on July 22nd in the Pacific Ocean. This eclipse was very special because it had the longest time of totality of this century. The sun was completely obscured for over 6 minutes.
We had been planning this trip for about 2 years. I am so excited to share this event with you because in doing so I get to relive it.
Here is our ship the Costa Classica during the initial boarding in Tianjin, China.
and here is happy Chuck coming aboard.
This was a very special cruise because everyone aboard was there for the same purpose. There were many astronomers, scientists, meteorologists, photographers and journalists on board.
The second most important part of this cruise was that we would be passing very close to the island Iwo Jima.
Everyday on the cruise we had lectures given by experts from all over the world. Most of the lectures had to do with our universe and a few had to do with WWII and Iwo Jima.
All of these lectures only heightened our anticipation of the big eclipse day.
The meterologists told us that the chances were very good for a grand view of the eclipse but I had my doubts because everyday before eclipse day it was bad weather.
When the big day arrived, I was awake by 6:00 am. The eclipse did not take place until 10:00am but I was eager to check things out and secure a good spot on deck for viewing. Chuck said he wanted to sleep to a more humane hour and he would join me on deck after he had his coffee.
When I got on deck the sky was clear with only a very few clouds. I knew then that we were going to get to see it. I was not surprised to see that many others were on deck ahead of me. There were a lot of people setting up their telescopes, cameras and other equipment. Here are just a few:
There was equipment everywhere but it was a big ship so there was plenty of room for us viewers who just wanted to witness this event. The only equipment we had with us was a pair of binoculars that I threw into my suitcase at last minute and the solar viewing glasses that were passed out on the ship to all passengers and crew members.
Chuck joined me on deck around 8:30 or 9:00 am. On our way to position the ship for the best eclipse viewing the ship passed very close to the island of Iwo Jima. We got a really good view of this island.
There were several WWII veterans on board. One veteran was present during the battle of Iwo Jima. He had just given a presentation, a few days before, on his experience... to a standing ovation. This enhanced our experience of actually seeing the island.
The eclipse schedule was:
1st contact: 10:20am - this is when the moon started to cover the sun - (solar viewing glasses were needed to view)
2nd contact: 11:25am - this is when the moon completely covers the sun - (this was when we could take off the solar viewing glasses and look with out naked eyes)
3rd contact: 11:32am - this is when the moon starts to pass away from the sun - (time to put the solar glasses back on)
4th contact: 12:53 - this is when the moon has completely passed away from the sun and the eclipse is over.
The ship continued on and the clock kept ticking. Finally, over the loud speaker of the ship we were informed that first contact had occured. We looked through our solar viewers and sure enough, the moon was just starting to take a bite out of the sun.
I took a few pictures while waiting for the second contact.
Here are people around us viewing the eclipse (notice how dark it was getting.)
Here is Chuck, with his solar glasses on, viewing the eclipse.
Chuck had his own camera with him and he took this picture of me viewing the eclipse. I had my solar glasses on and my hat over my head to protect my face from the sun. Believe it or not I could see everything great through the holes in my hat.
Here is a picture Chuck took of all the people on deck.
I knew from past experience that I could not get a picture of the sun while it was in the total eclipsed phase. I don't have that sophisticated of a camera. But Chuck used his camera and got this picture. Now it is not that great, but considering he was using a point and shoot without a tripod, it is fantastic.
A friend we met on board, Dimitry Rotstein from Israel, emailed me these photos he took with his camera.
The moon as it is covering the sun. Dimitry had to use a filter on the camera lens to get this shot.
He took this photo during complete totality.
And this fabulous shot was taken just as the moon was starting to uncover the sun. It is known as the "diamond ring" phase.
We sat back during totality and just enjoyed the view. I cannot describe how fantastic it was. We could even see Venus and Mars and stars. It was so incredible. I'm getting goose bumps now just remembering it.
This is a wide angle photo taken by Babak Tafreshi from Iran.
Someone commented on this blog that he/she would like to see a video. Well, there are several places where you can see videos of this eclipse. I could not take one myself but I am including some links that are fantastic. I encourage you to click on them.
A great slide show:
A well done youtube video:
if either of these links do not work for you, please email me so I can fix them.
After the eclipse was over the ship raised the eclipse flag...signifying our viewing success.
Another link I am including is the web site of the person who organized this cruise. His name is Roy Mayhugh. He organizes eclipse trips for every eclipse. If you might be interested in taking a trip for the main purpose of seeing a total solar eclipse this is the person you want to link up with.
Roy Mayhugh - http://www.astronomyvacations.com/index.html
I understand that the next total eclipse is July 11, 2010. It will pass over the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, Chile and Argentina. We have not decided if we are going to try and see this one or not but, if you are interested, email us.