Friday, November 16, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse from Port Douglas

Wednesday 14th November 2012

Well the vodkas last night certainly helped with a good nights sleep. I didn't want to be waking every 15 minutes and clock watching. This is what typically happens when I need to catch an early morning flight. Woke around 5am but did not get up until about 5.30am. The bags were already packed so getting ready was not going to take long at all. Wandered down to the car park at around 6am and started setting up.

The sky had scattered cloud and a lot better than what had been there in previous mornings . The winds were rolling the clouds through so it is going to be a lottery if we are going to see anything. Setup of gear was pretty easy given I had practiced enough times. Connected the laptop to the 7D and it was just a matter of counting down. My little QStarz GPS was showing only the smallest of clock errors through the Eclipse Orchestrator so sync'd the DSLR clock.

By this time a number of other people had joined me in the car park. A few other people were jumping into cars which I though was strange at this late stage.

As we approached totality a rather thick cloud moved in front of the sun. I was rather annoyed at this stage but there is nothing I could do. The Eclipse Orchestrator application called out for filters to be removed which i did. At the point of totality the remaining sun beams that were appearing around the edge of the cloud disappeared. That was very dramatic and the gasps and wows from people around highlighted the spectacle. If I could describe it, it was as if the worm hole from Star Trek DS9 went from open to closed.

The DSLR was snapping away at this stage, every image was of cloud. About 30-40 seconds into the totality the eclipsed sun started to appear. There were no other clouds approaching so was going to experience totality pretty much to completion. To have just 1 second of totality, for me this was a success. Any additional time was going to be a bonus.

I turn around to look at the other people and some are still wearing the glasses. I shout to them that they can take them off.

Now to the beauty for the eclipse. It was really stunning. Most spectacles we see these days are accompanied by music to give atmosphere. All there was was an eerie silence and I found this very appropriate.

For the remaining time in totality I adjusted the positioning and exposure levels of the video camera. Then contact 3 when the diamond ring effect occurred for the last time it lit up the and surrounding cloud that had moved across. The automated photos on the DSLR had now completed and the call to replace filters had been made. Cloud had completely rolled in at this point so started packing up the gear.

I judged that I had experienced around 30 seconds of totality. But on returning to the hotel room and checking the video footage it was more like 70 seconds. A few SMS's had come through from people back in Sydney and abroad. I exchanged a few thoughts of the experience with them.

During the rest of the day I read reports from other eclipse chasers. Looks like people in Cairns were completely clouded over. Then people located only a couple of kilometers away were also clouded out. It simply came down to pure luck. Looks like it was on my side.

You can watch/hear the video on YouTube below...

And I have put together an image based on a stack of 5. These were of the prominences just before C3.

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