Eclipse chaser Daniel Lynch reports back from Indonesia
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, 9 March, a total solar eclipse was visible over much of Indonesia. Eclipse chaser Daniel Lynch made it his mission to view and image the spectacle. Cloud is always the eclipse chaser's enemy and this eclipse fell towards the end of Indonesia's rainy season. However, this did not dampen the spirits of the small group that I had joined on Belitung, an island 500km north of the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Here totality was predicted to last just a little over two minutes. Between Jörg Schoppmeyer, Nicola Hollenbeck, Stephan Heinsius and myself, we have racked up over 40 total solar eclipses. Jörg, who travels to every annular, partial and lunar eclipse, has seen over 40 eclipses of all types in his lifetime. Whatever the weather forecast, we had experience on our side.   Eclipse chasers Daniel Lynch, Jörg Schoppmeyer, Nicola Hollenbeck Credit: Daniel Lynch When we arrived at our preferred viewing location (a secluded spot by coast) in the early morning, we were met with a wall of cloud. Thankfully we had spent the last two days tirelessly scouting the island and quickly relocated to a more promising spot. Both sunrise and first contact (the moment the Moon starts to cross the Sun) were obscured by thick cloud on the horizon. However, as the Sun rose to 5°, a beautiful partial eclipse came into view. The Moon had already taken a sizable chunk out of the Sun. The locals, who had turned up in huge numbers, were prepared with eclipse viewers and welder's glass. The Belitung residents saw this eclipse as a chance to showcase their small island and they certainly rose to the occasion. Banners of the eclipse and welcoming flags adorned the entire island. They really got into the spirit of things and did their country proud. The people of Belitung turned out in throngs as their island home provided a front row seat for one of nature's most thrilling sights. Credit: Daniel Lynch  As the partial stage progressed, the Sun passed into a cloudless area of the sky and gave us unimpeded views for approximately half an hour. Despite a small, thin band of cloud stubbornly sitting at 20° (where the Sun was due to be for totality), we were now sure that we would get an excellent view. We could relax. The atmosphere was quite jovial; many of the locals used my camera and long lens as a telescope. The teenagers enjoyed taking mobile phone shots of the camera screen. Some even insisted on selfies with these visiting astronomers. Nowhere, it seems, could escape the phenomenon. Five minutes from totality, Venus became visible in the growing darkness. A minute later and Mercury was in full view. The surrounding became quieter as the sense of expectation built. 30 seconds from totality, my camera - working perfectly up until now - registered an error. Eclipses, particularly during totality, seem to have this effect on cameras. I began troubleshooting (switching it on and off again) but to no avail; it was completely dead. Unfortunately, given all the fumbling, I missed the first diamond ring. Determined not to waste the short opportunity, I decided very quickly to forget about photographing the eclipse and simply observe it. This turned out to be the right decision, because the sight was really something to behold. The most striking aspect of this eclipse was a double prominence at 9am. It was so large as to be clearly visible with the naked eye. My long lens still acted as a telescope and this gave an even more impressive view. They were red, huge and angry. The outer corona was dulled slightly by the thin clouds but coronal structure was still very obvious and beautiful in the field of view. The two minutes of totality elapsed very quickly, but did allow some time to appreciate the special setting. The 360° sunset effect complemented the clear water lake beside us. All too soon though, the right limb of the Moon started to brighten. The chromosphere peaked out behind the Moon and gave way to a very beautiful diamond ring. The crowds cheered in their hundreds. It was a special eclipse. I will admit I felt slightly disappointed that my equipment failed at such an inconvenient time. Escpecially since simply removing the battery and placing it back into the camera immediately resolved the issue. Overwhelmingly though I felt extremely lucky and privileged to have witnessed such a spectacular celestial show. Besides, the rest of my group were kind enough to share their photos. Most of all though, this eclipse will stay in my memory because of the warmth, hospitality and genuine interest of the Indonesians. Afforded sole viewing rights, they weren't required to make this eclipse their own. However they poured themselves and their resources into making Indonesia a wonderful destination for an eclipse. I'm already looking forward to their next one: 20 April 2023. Daniel's eclipse-hunting kit (Credit: Daniel Lynch)   Packing for a solar eclipse Airlines now have strict weight restrictions so my best advice is to bring a friend or partner and use their allowances! As I was travelling solo this time, I had to pack relatively light. I used a Canon EOS 7D DSLR camera with an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS and homemade black polymer solar filter attached to the hood. The tripod was a carbon fibre Feisol CT-3401 with the excellent Manfrotto 393 Gimbal Head. For naked eye viewing, I used Welder's glass of shade 14 and the BBC Sky at Night Magazine eclipse glasses. Daniel Lynch is a photographer and eclipse chaser who travels the globe in search of the next big celestial event. Keep up to date with his exploits on Twitter via @eclipsedan.
Astrophotography competition opens for eighth year, with £10,000 up for grabs
This year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is now open for submissions, encouraging astrophotographers from around the world to capture and share the beauty of the cosmos. Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 will welcome submissions in nine main categories: Skyscapes: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds, alongside elements of earthly scenery. Aurorae: Photographs featuring auroral activity. People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element. Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits. Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets. Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our Solar System, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris. Stars and Nebulae: Deep-space objects within the Milky Way including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena. Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations. Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old. Returning again this year are two special prizes in the shape of The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer, awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the past year, and Robotic Scope, for images taken using a computer-controlled telescope. As a taster of what to expect from this year's competition, we present the winning images and some shortlisted submissions from 2015. See below for more details and how to enter this year's competition.  
Many of the exhibits have never left Russia before
The Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibit will run at the Science Museum London for the next 6 months. The opening was attended by cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova and Sergei Krikalev.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year - the winning images revealed
This year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition received more than 2,700 entries covering 60 countries, making the judges’ work more difficult than ever. Here we present the winning images in all their glory, along with a selection of shortlisted images that didn't quite make the final cut. All the winning images, including the runners up and those that came highly commended, are available to view in this month's BBC Sky at Night Magazine.
View our gallery of the newest images of Pluto and Charon released by NASA
Pluto's terrain is revealed in greater clarity than ever before in these latest images sent back to Earth by New Horizons.
The Insight Astronomer Photographer of the Year will be decided next week
The impressionist will help decide Insight's Astronomy Photographer of the Year
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit for a quarter century
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit for a quarter century
Pictures from our viewing party in Castle Park, Bristol
BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Bristol Astronomomy Society and @Bristol's viewing party in Castle Park, Bristol
Solar eclipse gallery
Stunning images of solar eclipses, captured by professional astronomers around the world
There is currently an enormous active region on the surface of our star. AR2192 is the biggest sunspot of the current solar cycle that started in 2008, and the largest sunspot group since 1990.
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here