Eclipse Chaser Report - July 2009
The eclipse path stretched from India through China and out into the Pacific Ocean. The end of the path crossed over the international dateline and ended in the South Pacific. Eclipse chasers were spread out across the path hoping for good weather. Clouds and rain intruded for many in India and China however ships at sea were able to maneuver into clear sky and aircraft along the path enjoyed clear sky above the clouds.
The corona had well defined polar brushes and the normal confused whispy look along the equatorial regions. Absent were longer streamers and shadow bands from most observations - and that makes sense due to the haze and cloud conditions many experienced. Along most of the eclipse path Venus was clearly seen before and after totality. Mercury shown brightly to the west of the corona. The long eclipse duration and clear sky conditions permitted some on the cruise ships situated east of Iwo Jima to locate bright stars in the sky.
Weather foiled the plans of many along the eclipse path. Most of the path through India and China were obscurred by clouds and rain. Clear areas did exist for some lucky enough to get there. The reports below are organized by general locations and contain input from multiple sources.
Polynesia & Cook Islands Cruise
-Bill and Denise Kramer
Of all the choices to view the total solar eclipse of July 2009, our selection was to be on board the Paul Gauguin; a luxury cruise ship operated by Regent Cruise Lines in the south Pacific and chartered by Travel Quest International and Wilderness Travel for a 14 day cruise to intercept the eclipse.
The Paul Gauguin cruise did not afford the longest duration. In fact, the duration was just under three and half minutes with second contact taking place only eight degrees above the horizon. What attracted us to it was the relatively high probability of success. The Paul Gauguin is a fast ship (relatively speaking) and has a very experienced and professional crew. The weather in that part of the world is normally mostly clear. Another way to say it is that there are normally some clouds in the sky. And as one looks towards the horizon the density of clouds appears to increase. No question it was a gamble, and it paid off with a beautiful eclipse.
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