TSE2013 with Nikon CoolPix S8100

TSE2013 with Nikon CoolPix S8100
TSE2013 with Nikon CoolPix S8100

TSE2013 Gulu-Arua road, Uganda

Hybrid solar eclipse November 03, 2013

This would be the next total solar eclipse in Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon which had the last one in 1952 February 25. It is also the next one for Ethiopia which had the last one 1959 October 2. And the next one for Congo (Kinshasa) and Kenya which had their last one 1980 February 16. It is also the next one for Somalia and Uganda which had their last one 1973 June 30.

It is an annular-total solar eclipse which will be annular in the beginning and total for the rest of the path. Between 1898 and 2510, there are only a few cases: 3 November 2013, 17 October 2172 and 29 April 2386. The last such semi-hybrid eclipse was on 20 November 1854.

A long eclipse less period of 12.86 years for Boston and Providence between solar eclipse of 25 December 2000 and 3 November 2013.

Jo and I decided to observed this total solar eclipse from Uganda. As we normally travel on our own, the country and related expenses forced us to join a group. Due to group size and rather reasonable price, we joined a German group of 18 participants total.

In total we travelled over 650 miles all over Uganda, visiting many parks, joined safaris, boat trips, chimp and gorilla trekking, etc. There was not a day where we were not entertained or busy. A wonderful trip and a country which we would recommend to anyone. People so friendly, a country so beautiful and a nature, still rather untouched. And so were the so called roads ... We crossed the equator twice by air, twice by boat and twice on land.

For the solar eclipse I prepared to observed and image with Lunt 35 and DMK41 CCD. Additional C90 for visual work and combined with iPhone Time Lapse and hand held photography with Nikon CoolPic S8100. Additional the Minolta Light meter for sky brightness measurement and a calibrated sensor for relative humidity and temperature measurements every 5 seconds for the entire day.

I prepared carefully calculations of sun altitude and magnitude of eclipse for each minute between first and fourth contact. Got maps for where to look for first contact and had graphs of the lunar profile for diamond ring and Baily’s beads. Last, but not least a sky map to see and find planets and who knows, some bright stars.

The week prior our travels was busy as I got a free Celestron CCD to test and as well a color CCD which I got as an award for the best picture of the Month at Sky at Night November issue. These two CCD cameras both arrived the last few days and the weather did not cooperate so I decided to use the DMK41 I had anyway with Lunt 35 on EQ2 mount with modified weight of observations at the equator.

We did not like the idea of observing near the observation place of the president, with plenty of security and loads of people. We scouted in the morning but soon Jo and I decided to head for a location between Pakwach and Gulu, there where the road got nearer to the central line. A totality of 19 seconds, but far away from all the hype.

The position of our observation place on GPS was 2 degrees 34'18" North latitude and 31 degrees 37'44" East longitude and 894 meters altitude. Of Gulu-Arua road, at a place with 3 single huts and barely locals around. A few others from the German group joined us and we all set up on line near a small walk path in the savannah.

We arrived quite well in advance of first contact and had enough time to set up telescopes, cameras and instruments. The days prior to eclipse day, we did not had a lot of luck with the weather. Most of the time the mornings were clear and afternoons and at eclipse time clouded out or even rain. It was after all rain season ... Eclipse day was a little different. Some clear patches but still some threatened clouds more to the east.

We missed first contact due to the clouds. It would be at 16h06m32s local time (UT+3h). But we soon could see the bite out of the sun a few minutes later - 16h09m. I tried to position, focus and calibrate the sun in the Lunt35. As I was observing from the ground, no table or chair, no darkening sheet, I could not focus as I used to do with the histogram. The batteries did not function as it should for the EQ2 and I stopped imaging at 16h20 to continue with my other measurements and visual observations. What is more important: visual or imaging?

The light intensity drop could be noticed from magnitude 70 onwards. Amazing early, but was that due to the low sun altitude? Venus was visible far away, towards the zenith from 17h05 onwards, nearly 20 minutes prior totality. Amazing. Despite the haze and some clouds near and sometimes around the sun.

I started the time lapse only 5 minutes prior totality. An image per second and this just before, during and just after totality. Just the horizon in the sun/moon direction. I had the Nikon pocket camera ready for some general pictures and practiced a little by taking some pictures through the eyepiece of the Lunt35 and C90. Beautiful views what no picture can match!

The crescent went smaller and smaller. A small halo of approximately 120 degrees at the Sun ... Crescents in the shade were not as obvious and even the shadow on the ground was not as usual. Due to the low altitude of course. The sun/moon was at about 18 degrees high. Then ... a never ending diamond ring! Wow. Here we go! The Baily's beads, nearly all around and a chromosphere completely 360 degrees. How pretty was that? The inner corona, quite symmetrical and even the medium corona. Due to the thin cloud layer, no outer corona was visible. Venus very bright above in the sky. But forgot all about to look for Mercury and Saturn near the Sun! What a spectacular eclipse. A view in the C90 - something you never forget!

But how quick was it over. Only 19 seconds as we established later from the footages. We all were very satisfied and happy with the eclipse. So beautiful. Not even 10 minutes later and it was clouded... Venus though, still to see far above. The Sun reappeared and the partial phase continues in the reverse way.

Venus was visible still until 17h44m, more than 22 minutes after totality. We packed our gear an headed back in the vans to the lodge where we stayed. Now and then looking through the eclipses glasses from the car through the clouds in a gap ... The president passing on the road with his escort. It was over and we look forward for the next one..

The measurements turned out very nice, despite the clouds here and there. Temperature in Sun in degrees Celsius, Relative humidity in %, and light intensity in Lux. Temperature dropped from max 38.68 to 24.61, a drop of over 14 degrees. And humidity increased from 29.6 to 91%, an increase of 61%. The sky brightness did not drop that much. It was still 128 Lux at its deepest. No scientific value of course, but just a bit of fun. And last but not least, the time lapse were cute and the moving shadow can be seen from the footage.

No posts.
No posts.