Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We Saw the Total Eclipse!!!

When we awoke yesterday morning at 05:30am, we were upset to find about 75% overcast and fairly squally weather. But we got underway at 06:15 as planned, for the viewing site about 5 miles from our anchorage.

We anchored off the small motu (islet along the reef) where we had planted the measurement equipment the day before. We dinghied ashore and hiked south along the eastern shore to where the southernmost photometer had been set up. We arrived on station about 07:30 am. Full totality was not expected until 08:34am.

Dave and Lydie Checking Out the Start of the Eclipse

By 07:30, the eclipse had started, and we played around with the cardboard 'Eclipse Viewing Glasses' that we'd been issued. I took a bunch of photos of the partial eclipse through the glasses, with varying success.

"Look, there's the Eclipse!"

Lydie eventually decided to walk further south along the shore--it was much easier now as the tide was much lower than when we'd been there the day before. She ended up watching nearly a quarter mile south of where we were, and got a much longer 'totality' than we did.

It was a squally day, and we prayed that we would have a clear view of the sun during the eclipse. We did get rained on a few times, but nothing serious. Fortunately, the sun kept coming out, and we ended up with a very good view of the sun during the totality. Since I was assigned stopwatch duty, I didn't get any pics DURING the totality, but Dave ended up getting some GREAT pictures.

He took them using the camera settings that one of the scientists had told him to use, and they came out really clear and nice. Plus the Canon camera time-stamps to the second, so we have accurate times on the pictures as well. We hope that they are of some use to someone--beyond the amusement of our friends and family.

Lydie and Dave Dismantling the Photometers

We only saw about 20 seconds of totality. But we had to wait around for another hour and a half for the equipment to shut itself down. We dismantled the 3 photometers on that island, and then motored east to another motu to pick up the last one. We weren't back in our anchorage until nearly 3pm.

At 03:30pm, San Saens, the charter boat with the other scientists, anchored next to us to pick up Lydie. Then they hauled anchor and headed back to the pass, for an overnight trip to Fakarava. They will all fly back from Fakarava, and then Arnold, the captain, will take the boat back to Raitea.

The Scientific Crew Leaving

Though we'd like to hang out here for another day or two, we see a good weather window to head for Makemo tonight. So we are planning to head out the pass around 4:30pm this afternoon, for a short overnight to Makemo. If we miss this weather window, it may well be another 7-10 days before we get another good window.
At 7/11/2010 4:13 PM (utc) our position was 16°57.21'S 144°34.83'W

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