Total Solar Eclipse


Robert B Slobins


Flash Spectrum with sun: Nikon D-700, Nikon 80-200/2.8 AF-D lens at 155 mm, f/4.

· Images DSC_8383 through 8385 (second contact)
· Image DSC_8409 (mid-eclipse), showing the coronal spectrum with a distinct image of the Fe XIV line at 5303A. I also see hints of the Fe X line at 6374A; I will try to add all the coronal images together to see if I can enhance this line.
· Images DSC_8430 through 8432 (third contact).

The clouds diminished the light, but Capture One enabled me not only to recover the scene, but also to match closely each image to the others in this series.

Totality—Nikon D800, Tamron 300/2.8 lens at f/4.

· Image 93308-3: Second contact diamond ring
· Image 93310-2: Details of the high prominence
· Image 93312-93325-B: Composite of 14 images from 1/1000 to 1 second exposures (some of the longer exposures are doubled) from second contact through mid-eclipse, showing the solar corona ‘burning’ through the middle cloudiness. This enabled me to compose the entire solar corona, as the clouds were masking different areas of the corona as they moved. I used a Larsen-Sekanina filter to enhance the form and details of the composite, then added each of the products of the filter to the composite to one of the ½ second exposures, then used Photoshop to manipulate that result further. The weather afforded me an opportunity to attempt to imitate Howard Russell Butler’s painting of the 1918 total solar eclipse.

Totality—Nikon D800, Tamron 400/4 lens at f/5.6.
· Image 22621_2: Second contact diamond ring
· Image 22624_1: Details of the high prominence 1/2000 second exposure
· Image 22625_1: Details of the high prominence 1/1000 second exposure
· Image 22623-22637 A: Composite of 15 images from 1/2000 to 1 second exposures; see notes for Image 93312-93325-B above for additional details.

My wife Elisabeth and I observed and imaged the eclipse from Ternate, Indonesia. This was her fifth and my sixteenth total solar eclipse expedition and we still maintain a perfect record.

We joined the Astro Trails group from the UK in Manado and flew to Ternate on the 8th. Our base was the Bela International Hotel, between the city center and the southern end of the island.

Apparently, an easterly wave of enhanced clouds and precipitation was bearing down on Ternate. We had rain during our dinner at 20:00 and our early breakfast at 04:30 on Eclipse Day. Whatever detailed weather forecasts were available were stating that Tidore, our planned observation site, was to have worse observing conditions than Ternate and neither location were to have better than partly cloudy skies for totality. The actual weather was much better than forecast, especially, as we discovered later, Tidore.

We also learned that the crossing by speedboat to Tidore was probably the first amphibious eclipse expedition in history. We do not travel light to total solar eclipses and accordingly, we remained at the hotel. The hotel has a banquet room that opens to a wide, solid east-southeast facing patio on the roof of the entrance canopy. Thus, we set up our equipment there and used some of the banquet tables and had mains power available to run our Macbook Airs that controlled the still cameras with Xavier Jubier’s Solar Eclipse Maestro software.

Setup was quick; our main worries concerned the weather. The sun rose behind a distant high cloudbank over Halmahera and quickly ascended into clearing skies. There was, however, a bank of altocumulus to the north and northeast and they were starting to encroach on the eclipse.

Up to second contact, the altocumulus covering the eclipse appeared to be moving off, leaving us the possibility of observing totality in clear skies. However, the cloudiness was also expanding and we never had a clear view. We came close to losing the view of the eclipse by third contact as lower clouds started to form.

This reminds me of what I observed on the centerline about 7 km inland on Baja California during the long total solar eclipse of 1991. Altocumulus formed and increased over the eclipse during totality at the same rate as this one. We could see all of this total eclipse because it was 60% shorter in duration than the one nearly a quarter-century ago. After third contact, the clouds dissipated and the rest of the morning became hot and mostly sunny. Later that evening we had a thunderstorm.

Despite the cloudiness, we had a great view of the second contact diamond ring and the brilliant prominence nearby, which remained in view throughout totality. I traced some of the coronal streamers to about a solar diameter from the lunar limb. The moon appeared darker than the surrounding sky and the corona was pure white.

We had great support from the ground operator, Safari Tours of Manado and are very grateful to Albert, one of its staff who assisted Elisabeth and me. The hotel management let its staff take a break to observe totality and many of the staff joined us on the roof and attended to us; we are very grateful for that, especially during the most difficult part of any eclipse expedition: striking the set (tear-down and cleaning).

So the clouds detracted from the visual experience, but not the photographic material. Artistically, this was one of my more productive solar eclipses, thanks to Capture One.

Observing site: Ternate, Indonesia, Bela International Hotel, 0° 46’ 42.9348†N, 127° 22’ 35.4792†E, elevation 65.4 meters. Duration of totality: 2:42.8.