EurAstro TSE Mission 2013 to Uganda

Jean-Luc Dighaye, Manfred Rudolf

The Eclipse-Reisen trip to Uganda to see the hybrid solar eclipse of 03 November 2013 was a full success. The eclipse was visible from northwestern Uganda, near Lake Albert and the Nile river.

In the morning of eclipse day, we made a scouting tour to find a suitable observation site. However it turned out that the place which we had in mind and which was located direcly on the central line, was already crowded many hours before the eclipse: Groups of school children from nearby villages were dropping in, and it appeared like a popular festival, with food stalls, attractions, and souvenir and information stands.

Also the President of Uganda had announced to come and observe the eclipse from there...

In view of the crowds and of the security controls on the road, it was not sure that the whole group could reach the observing site in time. Therefore it had been decided to observe from a different place, on the road from Pakwach to Gulu.

We saw the eclipse itself amidst a thin veil of clouds - an unforgettable 15 seconds of totality.

The last fifteen seconds before totality: the thin solar crescent breaks into separate pieces ("Baily's Beads") due to the mountainous lunar limb, and finally disappears completely behind the Moon.

From the Murchison Falls National Park, I managed to take wideangle views of the night sky, showing Venus, Orion-to-Canopus, and a comet duo: ISON, hardly visible, bottom right of Mars (see right insert) and Lovejoy, next to M44 the Beehive Cluster (see left insert).

Before the eclipse, we were stationed in Entebbe, where Daniel Fischer our astro guide gave a lecture, and where we visited the zoo, in particular to see giraffes and chimpanzees (here a fishing one, capturing food). We also visited Ngamba Island, full of birds (and also of chimps).

On our way to Murchison, we saw rhinos in a park.

After the eclipse, we visited the Murchison Falls, where elephants could be seen.

Then, we went to the Kibale Forest National Park to observe chimps close.

Our last park was the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we made game drives and a cruise, during which numerous hippos and birds could be seen.

Weather was warm and humid.

The only disappointing thing: the lions, which could only be glimpsed sleeping, from a distance.

Crossing the Equator line again, we came back to Entebbe.

Tourist authorities insist that Uganda is a safe place to visit. Ugandans are efficient and very friendly, in particular the young children we saw along the roads, waving at us and saying hello by shouting friendly "muzungu" (whites!).

Jean-Luc Dighaye