The Total Eclipse

Location: 31° 37′ 18″ S, 176° 26′ 18″ E (at the time of the eclipse) above the Devonport Seamount

It’s been years in the planning and finally the big day has arrived, the Total Eclipse. Ryan didn’t sleep more than an hour last night because of the excitement and Rachel didn’t fare much better. When the alarm rang at 630 AM, we rose out of bed ready to take on the day! Looking out the window we saw mostly sunny skies, maybe 1 octal of cloudiness; just as predicted, ideal eclipse watching weather. We left the stateroom around 700, right around the time that the ship effectively stopped over our viewing location.

The first thing we did after boarding the Millennium 11 days ago was to scout out or location on the ship for the eclipse. We selected the overlook at the aft port aft stairs on deck 12 (in other words… the back left of the ship). It was a great location, a perfect view of the sun with no obstructions. We were joined by a professor from Florida State College and one of the leads from the TravelQuest tour company who helped plan the trip and guided the ship to the perfect location. Before today, he was 17 for 17 in successfully seeing total eclipses. This was really fortuitous because he helped us and others with our last minute questions about eclipse photography. He also announced to those nearby when important events were taking place.

Rockin’ the eclipse viewing glasses

We spent the next two hours setting up, testing the equipment and patiently waiting. So far the weather was holding steady and it looked like we were going to have perfect weather for the event. The seas and winds were calm, and the ship was moving just enough to keep her steady.

At 910 AM local first contact happened. The eclipse was under way. We had seen this part before in May in Mesquite, NV for the annular eclipse. Over the next three and  half hours, we would take over 1200 pictures.

As totality approached, more casual observers made their way to the sundeck. Our area stayed relatively crowd free. You could feel the excitement in the air. The cruise and tour operators began showing everyone the shadows created by the crescent sun made by holed-out placards.

Crescent shadows seen through a hole-punched paper.

Finally at around 1020 AM, the moments we have all been waiting for happened: Totality! The weather remained prefect and over 3000 passengers and crew were treated to one of nature’s greatest shows. The pictures you see of totality don’t do it justice, cameras can’t captures what the human and an brain can. It’s hard to describe the shear majesty of totality: imagine a disk of pure, crisp and clear blue-white light emanating out in all directions, then place a marble of onyx in front of that disk. We could see the moon appeared in three dimensions in front of sun. In all directions it looked like sunset, because only 40 miles away the sun was still shining. It really is a sight to be seen!

Totality lasted the fastest three and a half minutes in our lives. During totality, Ryan relaxed and enjoyed the phenomena taking very few pictures. for contrast, Rachel engaged in one of her favorite hobbies photography. She took over 300 pictures of the eclipsed sun. Some of the great pictures can be seen here.

Bailey’s Beads – light shining through lunar valleys.
Totality! The purple/pink on the edges are prominences. A prominence is a dense cloud of incandescent ionized gas projecting from the Sun’s chromosphere into the corona.
Totality – the corona of the sun
Totality – the corona of the sun (taken with a longer shutter speed)
The ‘Diamond Ring’

All too soon though, totality ended and the sun came back. We were told that the Captain tried to make a “victory lap” around the sun deck, but was quickly swamped by thankful passengers, offering congratulations and asking for pictures. We, and the other diehards, stuck out the rest of the eclipse taking pictures until the fourth contact was made around 1040.

By 1100, life returned to normal on the ship. The ship began moving at its slowest pace in over a week. After lunch, Rachel began editing pictures (and played some blackjack), and Ryan took a nap.

Tonight we saw a variety show with performers who normally perform around the ship including the male acapella group, Sonic Wave.

Coincidentally, today was also the mid-point of our honeymoon, and a logical place to separate the two “halves of the trip”. The first half was tropical Polynesia (and Fiji), whereas the second half is Down Under and Middle Earth. Climate wise, we can tell the difference, we exited the tropics for the first time yesterday in nearly three weeks. The temperatures on the ship are 10-15 degrees cooler than they were in the first half of the trip. The climate is still great, just not as hot.

Tomorrow is another day at sea. We plan to edit photos, relax and work on our tans.

Word drops: Surprisingly none

Photos taken so far (today):  4179 (1254)

Sequence composite of the total eclipse.

4 thoughts on “The Total Eclipse”

  1. Great pictures. We are looking forward to seeing all of them We are so happy for the both of you that you got to see it.

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