2016 MICRONESIA TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE RESULTS.

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 The eclipse as seen through the initial partial phases, totality and receding partial phases. D. Agard photo.

RESULTS FROM THE 44TH “RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS” ECLIPSE CRUISE – ADVENTURE ABOARD THE  SILVER DISCOVERER IN THE PACIFC OCEAN

by Paul D. Maley

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Group shot of most of the 99 happy eclipse guests and some of the crew with the Texas flag in the foreground. Photo by B. Hulse.

What an amazing trip! Island and atoll hopping, seeing an active volcano, colorful coral and sea creatures and of course, the total eclipse of the Sun.  Although most of our team was from the US, we also had members from Australia, Belgium, Austria, Canada and Switzerland.  We began in Honiara, Solmon Islands and ended in Koror, Palau.  Weather along the route including the seas was generally quite good; night observing was generally cloudy although there were some parts of the night where clear skies occurred and it was easy to see dark skies.  A number of artificial satellites were seen as well as one or two fireballs brighter than -1 magnitude.   Numerous small ports were visited with deployment generally by Zodiac or from the gangway.  The solar eclipse was the principal goal of the routing and it was observed from beginning to end.  A thin cloud developed as a result of atmospheric cooling. Although a Silverseas crew member monitored the ambient temperature, the readings only showed about a 1 degree drop which likely was erroneous but driven mainly by the passage of periodic low cloud across the Sun.

Photographs of the eclipse were somewhat impacted by ship motion and only short exposures were possible. Longer exposures for the outer corona were not doable.  Nevertheless the visual experience was overpowering and the photos below tell the story.   There was plenty of room for all guests to deploy across the various decks and in fact there were optimal spaces that were not occupied since the number of serious photographers was much lower than on prior trips.  About 60% of the guests acknowledged that this was their first total eclipse experience.

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A black-tipped reef shark, seen by some of the 26 divers on the trip.  This was the largest group of divers ever to be on a Silversea expedition ship.  Wolfgang Auer photo.

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Path of our ship including the eclipse site approximate location

THE ECLIPSE

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A threatening cloud at moderately high altitude was created by the cooling process from the eclipse and vanished soon after totality. It was quite thin and did not hamper visual or photographic efforts. In this shot the sky is clear except for a few scattered low clouds in the opening partial phase.  The Moon’s shadow is approaching the ship from the southwest (lower right).  R.Arnott photo.

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The final path of our eclipse intercept.  K. Sundberg photo.

At midnight on eclipse day I had to make the decision on how to intercept the eclipse.  Because of the weather model (see below) prospects looked to be best due north of Truk.  Shortly after midnight on March 9 I contacted Louis Justin, the expedition leader, to inform him that we should proceed straight north rather than northwest.  The result was that we were unable to land at Satawal Island the next day but had great skies during the eclipse.  The ship icon below shows our initial planned position an hour after the predicted time of totality.  In the graphic, the deep red is predicted to have 90% cloud cover and the blue area just 20 to 30% as modeled.  By heading straight north we sailed into the blue and thus toward a drier airmass.  It worked!!

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Weather model produced by Andrew Cool provided our best cloud forecast indicator.

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Paul D. Maley providing the mandatory eclipse safety briefing illustrating Baily’s Beads at an annular eclipse.  Baily’s Beads were not visually spotted during this total eclipse. L. Palmer photo.

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A Silversea crew member helps raise the traditional Texas flag on eclipse morning on the aft end of the Silver Discoverer. It remained up for 24 hours. B. Braswell photo.

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On deck facing aft a few hours before totality.  All is clear and Zodiacs were stacked to optimize room for all guests. P. Maley photo.

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The eclipse elevation was 75 degrees above the South.  Here Anne Laure de Tauzia and Robert Ho illustrate the best view positions. M. McCaw photo.

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Joe Malnar.  M. McCaw photo.

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The above is not just any trash can. It is a novel way to use what is available to easily deposit/extract items needed during the eclipse without them rolling away on the deck of a moving ship used by Tina Greene-Bevington.  P. Maley photo. 

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Necessity is the mother of invention. Here an observation uses clips to secure mylar in front of his camera. A number of observers had their own unique methods for attaching filters in front of optics for the partial phases.  P. Maley photo.

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Laura and Mike Zeman.  J. Sterkens photo.

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Carlton Lane.  P. Maley photo.

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Activity just prior to totality.  Alice Somann left on chair, Lynn Palmer in black shirt, Paul Narum with telephoto, and Tamara Ledley in blue shirt sitting.  F. Ledley photo.

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The first bit of lunar surface begins its journey over the Sun. L.Maxfield photo.

A number of eclipse photographs are NOT reproduced here since many were out of focus or slightly blurred. The absence of significant size sunspots made it hard to focus and the lucky few that did achieve focus got really good results.  In addition many had to hand hold cameras because of the high angle of the eclipse above the horizon and used long focal length lenses in the process.  Again, this contributed to some of the poor images.

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As a few low clouds moved through, it was possible to shoot the partial phase without a filter. T.Greene-Bevington photo.

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Projecting the crescent Sun onto the wood deck.  R. Spears photo.

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Central totality over the ship at 0204UT March 9 (1204pm local time). Wide angle fish-eye photo showing the entire horizon by Bob Hulse.

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A smattering of Baily’s Beads caught just before 2nd contact was complete. This was a very short-lived event and nobody else obtained any indication of Beads before or after totality. LeRoy Maxfield photo.

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The above Himawari satellite image at 0100UT (1 hour 4 minutes before totality at our ship location). The Moon’s shadow (dark area to left of center) can be seen approaching from the southwest.

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Satellite image shows the location of our ship at 0200UT —  2 minutes before the start of totality. The dark area is the approaching Moon’s shadow that partly covers the area nearest the ship.

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The Himawari image above was taken at 0230UT, 30 minutes after the previous image and the dark area has moved to the northeast.

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The total eclipse with a short exposure to reveal the inner corona and prominence activity after 2nd contact. LeRoy Maxfield image.

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A magnificent blowup of the Moon’s limb showing chromosphere and smaller prominence activity. LeRoy Maxfield image.

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Contrast the 1100 prominence between the view captured by Don Gardner on Ternate and LeRoy Maxfield on the ship in an hour and 12 minute time difference.  Composite by B. Hulse.

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A 1/250 sec exposure of the inner corona. B.Braswell photo.

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The middle corona. C. Faser photo.

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The eerie mackerel cloud during totality that formed in front of the Sun then disappeared after the eclipse was quite transparent.   R.Arnott photo.

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A precisely focused 3rd contact showing pink chromosphere. It heralded the second diamond ring which burst out immediately afterward.  C. Faser photo.

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Contrast the above image with the preceding one taken a fraction of a second later before the diamond ring that popped out all at once at 3rd contact. Here Jan catches third contact.  J. Hellemans photo.

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Totality is nearing its end as the light begins to grow around the south to west horizon.  R.Arnott photo.

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A ship’s officer stands in front of the bridge to take a brief glance at totality.  P. Maley photo.

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                                                   A chocolate cake especially prepared for the post eclipse dinner.  M. Blum photo.

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A sample of our eclipse themed menus which I suggested and were artfully prepared by Hotel Manager Ursula Document.

TRAVEL IMAGES

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A good omen preceded the cruise. Here Paul Maley receives a surprise award for having traveled 2 million miles on United Airlines on the flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia

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Astronaut Jerry L. Ross gave lectures on his experiences in spaceflight.  M. Kredel photo.

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Dr. Mike Shara provided a number of stimulating talks on astronomy and astrophysics.  L. McConlogue photo.

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“Dinner with an astronaut” was a near nightly experience with different passengers sharing a meal with Jerry L. Ross. (L-R) D. Kredel, M. Kredel, J. Ross, L. Siegal, B. Siegal, J. Hellemans, J.Wilson, S. Wilson, A. Pavel.  Photo provided by D. Kredel.

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Fire dancer. M. Blum photo.

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Local children. K. Delcourte photo.

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Seabird.  K. Sundberg photo.

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Bat as seen on Yap nature hike. L. Maxfield photo.

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Flying fish. L. Maxfield photo.

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Tavurvur Volcano steaming at Rabaul, New Britain. R. Arnott photo.

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Deck 7 at night where passengers could go to watch the night sky.  We were able to turn all of the lights in the photo off at chosen times. K. Delcourte photo.

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Sea squirt. W. Auer photo.

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Black spotted sting ray.  W. Auer photo.

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Polyps. W. Auer photo.

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Japanese Zero in Truk Lagoon. W. Auer photo. 

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Nudibranch.  W. Auer photo.

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Fan coral with divers just behind. W.Auer photo.

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An example of the calm sea and the many tranquil islands and atolls seen.  B. Hulse photo.

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One of the millions of jellyfish at Jellyfish Lake, Palau.  B. Hulse photo.

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Group of some of the divers on our cruise along with masses of fish.  U. Erfurth photo.

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Green sea turtle on the sea bed.  L. Palmer photo.

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Jellyfish up close.  L. Palmer photo. 

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Cluster of fish. L. Palmer photo. 

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Needle nose fish.   L. Palmer photo. 

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Palau’s Rock Islands appear to sit on giant pedestals. They are formed by ancient coral reefs and therefore, the bases of these limestone formations have been slowly eroded over millions of years into quirky mushroom shapes. L. Palmer photo.

 

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Flaming sky at the end of the cruise in Koror, Palau. P. Maley photo.

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The latest Palau news and why you dont see a lot of barbeques. Also ninjas are a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

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