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Programmer: Bill Kramer
Last update: April 17 2015

Report

Total Solar Eclipse 2006

The eclipse track started in Brazil at sunrise and stretched east towards Africa hitting land in Nigeria before heading up through Libya/Egypt then Turkey, the Black Sea, and out into Russia to end in Mongolia. Numerous good locations existed for viewing this eclipse at almost all points along the path except near sunrise.

Report from Side Turkey

-by Bruce, Karen, Ruth & Andrew Martin of Leicester, England

This was our first total eclipse. We had seen a 96% partial in 1999 & the annular eclipse in Valencia in Spain last October, but knew full well that the difference between them & the event about to unfold before our eyes was literally the differnce between day & night !

We had travelled from England the day before, & on the plane I sat next to a couple who had no idea what-so-ever that there was to be a total eclipse the following day & that they wouldn't be watching it as "they wanted to have a long lie-in" !!

As the day dawned, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise & perfectly clear skies - the excitement was already rising.

This was the day where I would fulfill a lifes ambition.

We arrived at the Sunrise Queen in good time & met up with Rick & the rest of the eclipse group before setting up our cameras. The view from the rooftop was stunning - Deep blue mediterranean to the south, views to Side in the east, for miles along the coast in the west & the snowcapped Taurus mountains behind us in the north.

12:38 "First Contact" is called - we see it about 10 seconds later, it's all real, it's going to happen, my heart is pounding, I start the cameras & watch over the next hour as the eclipse progresses. - Everything is exactly as I expected.

The temperature has now dropped by about 10 deg F & there is a chill in the air, the contrast has been washed away from the colours around us.

I blink & then someone calls out "3 minutes" - What has happened to the time ? Where has it gone ? - I run through my well rehearsed plan & realise that I can't remember ANY of it.

Too much is happening !!! - "look for shadowbands, look for stars, look for Venus" - Andrew spots Venus first. It's as if somebody has just painted a silver spot onto the sky. "One minute - Watch for the shadow". It's getting cold. It's getting dark.

Filters off - Everything is happing so quickly. "Watch for the shadow....Here it comes....Here it comes....."

We dont know where to look - The sun, sky, stars, planets, shadow, sunset (at 2 in the afternoon) !!? - People all around shouting, screaming, clapping, cheering, sighing.

Diamond ring. Beautiful colours. Mesmerising corona, prominances & Howies' trademark call !

This isn't like the sky at night.....The colour is an incredibly deep blue - This really is like looking into space.

I look around at the group. All are quiet, in awe, private reflection.

I blink again - chromosphere, spectacular diamond ring, the emotion. - TOTALLY AMAZING !!

5 seconds later, "When's the next one ?" - NOT SOON ENOUGH

This was the day where I fulfilled a lifes ambition, AND set the pattern for the rest of my life.


Report from Turkey

-by Bill Kramer

Side (pronounced “see day”) is a resort city located along the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey. Popular with German and Russian tourists during the summer months the town provided a perfect location for many eclipse chasers of all nations to view the Total Solar Eclipse of March 2006. Thousands of eclipse chasers gathered in the various resorts, hotels, ancient ruins, and beaches to view the total solar eclipse under near perfect sky conditions.

Our group of 80 led by the ever enigmatic Rick Brown swelled to over 100 in number for the day of the eclipse. The helicopter landing pad area of the Sunrise Queen Resort hotel had been reserved by Rick and his Turkish colleagues’ over a year in advance. Telescopes, cameras, binoculars, and other equipment filled the area as we waited for the magic to begin. More experienced eclipse chasers shared advice and tips with others as we anxiously watched every cloud on the horizon, checked the various equipment set ups over and over again, and enjoyed the comfortable environment provided by our Turkish hosts. It was a beautiful day in Side!

Other groups took up positions on the beach near the various hotels or near the beautiful pools and gardens of the resort complexes described by one member of our group as being like a cruise ship that does not move. All along the balconies other small gatherings of eclipse chasers could be seen. In the town of Side many gathered at the ancient Roman ruins near the temples for Apollo and Athena, and a live broadcast was made by the good folks at the San Francisco Exploratorium from inside the Roman Theater.

The weather could not have been better. Light clouds dotted the horizon and never really approached. The clear sky extended back into the Turkish countryside and over the mountains to our north. Although some were concerned about a few thin clouds drifting closer, they broke apart quickly as the air was very dry. A light breeze from the Mediterranean Sea along with a warm sun made everyone feel at ease.

As first contact approached I sat in front of my Questar telescope and watched. Right on schedule the first bit of the moon appeared against the sun and I yelled “First contact!” in chorus with several others who were lucky enough to be watching through small scopes. Within a few minutes the start of the eclipse could be seen by those with eclipse glasses. The eclipse was underway and the conditions were beautiful.

Some may desire a perfectly clear sky however clouds on the horizon actually add to the eclipse experience. Not only do they provide a tension and anxiety but they also show the colors of totality and highlight the 360 degree sunset one sees during totality. A small front of clouds could be seen to the west however they were very far away and would not interfere with the eclipse viewing.

The moon slowly crept across the surface of the sun and at long last engulfed the only sunspot grouping visible. The sun was at solar minimum. Most of the surface was clear of sunspots however the view through hydrogen alpha telescopes showed there to be some nice prominence activity all around the disk.

During this time I fiddled with a digital camera attached to the telescope. I had practiced the setup on the moon with great success however as often befalls eclipse chasers in the short time before totality the equipment was not cooperating. As the eclipse passed the mid way point between first and second contact alternative configurations were discussed and it was decided that our daughter Melissa (16) would operate the telescope with her SLR loaded with slide film. I must say that took some guts from all parties involved! Although she was well experienced with the camera she had never really used the telescope. But she was up to the task the results speak for themselves. This meant that I could actually observe the eclipse without a camera, something I had never done in my previous ten eclipse chases. And that was very special.

The temperature of late March along the Mediterranean Sea area of Turkey shifts quickly on sunny days. During the mid day the temperature will be in the 70F (20C) range. But as soon as the sun starts to set the temperature drops quickly about 10F (5C) and lower. The same was true for this eclipse. At first contact the temperature was comfortable in short sleeves but as second contact approached it was getting chilly and there was a light breeze. Unfortunately I do not have any temperature readings to share at this time. (If you were in Side and did record temperature differentials, please email me so that data can be shared with others.)

In the last ten minutes before totality events begin to happen with increasing rapidity. First Venus appeared behind some high level clouds and in what seemed like only seconds the shadow of the moon could be detected on the horizon. The darkness filled the horizon and the clouds started to change color as fellow eclipse chasers spotted shadow bands (my eyes were riveted upwards) racing across the ground. As the last bits of sunlight disappeared behind the sun a beautiful diamond ring appeared and a highly irregular corona appeared against the dark blue sky. Loud cheers and gasps of amazement formed a roaring welcome to the view.

It is very difficult to explain the feeling one has at this point in time. Most let out the emotion by cheering or screaming, I was simply stunned by the glory of it all. Long coronal streamers reached out along the equatorial region of the sun. The polar areas were capped by brilliant brushes that remind many of brush topped Roman helmets that once marched across the very grounds we were standing on. Twisted magnetic lines of pearly white reached out behind a black moon into space. Laser red prominences dotted the edge of the sun as the chromosphere receded out of view. A total solar eclipse is one of the most amazing things the eye can behold in the sky.

After the cheer at the beginning of the eclipse the noise level softened. One could hear others calling out to look at one feature or another while others simply giggled, laughed, or sighed at the beauty of it all. The mixture of languages (Turkish, English, French, German, and much more) created an ethereal effect for the ear as the solar eclipse put on a grand showing.

Coronal streamers extended beyond the field of view in the 10x30 binoculars I was using. One was severely bent by the magnetic fields of the sun in an almost unnatural way while another was based in a large looping structure. Numerous prominences dotted the edge of the sun.

This eclipse was only 3 minutes and 40 seconds long from our location. That time collapsed quickly (eclipses always seem like 15 seconds to me) and a large prominence appeared as if being slowly pulled out from behind the sun. Soon another appeared and then in rapid succession a series of them appeared just before the chromosphere began to emerge from behind the moon. Then the photosphere showed through a series of valleys creating a growing diamond ring that took your breath away. Several people raced to turn around and watch the shadow of the moon climb the mountains to our north. At first the mountains where enshrouded in darkness, invisible to the eye. All at once they were there and the shadow retreated as quickly as it had come over the horizon.

A loud cheer rose from all around. Relief as the sunlight returned coupled with the emotion of the moment. Another successful eclipse, my eleventh and too long until the next one. This was Denise’s seventh eclipse, Alexandria’s fourth, and Melissa’s third – we are a family of eclipse chasers!

Eternal thanks again and again to Mom and Dad for starting me down this path.

Links to external websites

Jorge Almeida (Side Turkey)
Egypt Eclipse 06
Glenn Schneider
Peter Shaw (Side Turkey)
Total Eclipse in Natal Brazil

List presented in random order



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