Indonesia Solar Eclipse, March 9, 2016

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Indonesia Solar Eclipse, March 9, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:23 am

This was the least likely total solar eclipse of the decade for me to attend as it occurred during my Iron Blosam timeshare week. However, the eclipse path is near Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia, which has long been at the top of Liz’ scuba diving bucket list. At the Long Beach Scuba Show in 2013 Liz met Vickie Coker, a Texas dive travel agent who charted the Damai II for this eclipse with the first half of the itinerary in Raja Ampat. After some discussion we signed up in spring 2014.

The Damai dive boats are very luxurious, with spacious cabins, good food and very attentive service. This trip even included free massages, of which we each had two before the masseur had an accident, breaking a rib so he had to be taken to a hospital.

The rest of the passengers were some of Vickie’s regular customers, some of whom have been on 50 liveaboard dive trips. This was my 4th and Liz’ 5th . Dive boats are not built for speed, as the Damai cruised at 6 knots. This meant that deviations from plan based upon prior day weather predictions were not realistic. However, Indonesia’s weather forecasts are very unreliable, particularly on a local scale. What we all knew was that large mountainous islands in Indonesia are cloud generators, so the ship was positioned near our afternoon dive sites but about 30 miles from any of the larger islands. Our location is marked with the red "+."
2016 Eclipse Map.png

Halmahera is the large island at far right above. The land at upper left is the northeast arm of Sulawesi. We spent 4 days there at Lembeh/Manado after the Damai II.

Skies were mostly cloudy just after dawn but at least 70% clear by our 7:30AM breakfast. By 8:35AM first contact it was even clearer so weather anxiety dissipated. The desperation scenario would have involved using the faster dive Zodiacs to evade last minute clouds, but that was unnecessary.

We were located near the Goraici Islands, about 127 degrees east longitude and just 10 minutes latitude north of the equator. It was quite toasty in the sun at first contact, but this was the most dramatic cooling I’ve experienced as an eclipse progressed so it was very comfortable for at least half an hour before totality.

Some of the divers were very accomplished photographers with high end DSLR cameras. By setting ISO to 2500 they easily overcame the challenge of being on a relatively unstable platform. Carolyn was able to expose long enough to get some corona structure.

The streamer at upper right was quite a bit longer to the naked eye.

Carolyn’s third contact diamond ring:
_CEO2286 - Version 2.jpg

The colors may be artifacts, but it still makes a nice picture.

Carolyn also took this picture of our surroundings just after third contact.

Dark clouds at left distance are still within totality.

Judy and Gladys went for shorter exposures which will only show the innermost corona but provide sharper detail. Gladys’ camera was 36megapixels so not necessary to zoom much while shooting.

Gladys pic just after second contact:

Red chromosphere is at bottom where diamond ring has just finished.

At shortest exposure the red prominences (solar flares) are well displayed.

Similar picture from Judy:

Gladys pic just before third contact:

Judy’s third contact diamond ring picture:

The diamond rings (second contact ~6 o’clock and third contact ~1 o’clock) were not exact opposites because the Goraici Islands are about 20 miles south of eclipse centerline. We had 3 minutes 6 seconds of totality, and it would have been only 6 seconds longer on centerline.

And finally, here is Vickie’s sequence of partial and total eclipse pictures:
Eclipse sequence.jpg

Internet access on the boat in these remote waters was zilch. Occasionally we got limited phone and text. Most people got lucky with Indonesia’s dicey weather for this eclipse. Only a couple of places on land were clouded out.
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Tony Crocker
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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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