EurAstro Total Solar Eclipse 2003

J.-L. Dighaye

EurAstro Total Solar Eclipse 2003 - an airborne interception of the Moon's shadow above Antarctica.
This was an unprecedented expedition - a total solar eclipse had never before been observed from Antarctica. To overcome the remoteness of the eclipse track, a Qantas 747-400 flew down from Melbourne, Australia. It was a 14-hour flight, the longest "domestic" flight ever!

I had booked seats in the first class cabin. To my delight, leading worldwide eclipse specialist Prof. Jay M. Pasachoff offered to assist me. "I'm proud to be a member of the EurAstro team", he said.
After having seen a sea of clouds for hours, we were eventually treated with some clearings next to the eclipse site. The view over the ice floes was breathtaking, and everybody rushed to take pictures as the plane banked and dived while the partial phase of the eclipse was already in progress.

Then we were in for the grand show: onset of the Moon's shadow coming at highly supersonic speed from the horizon, more than 400 kilometers away, diamond ring, spectacular displays of the solar corona and chromosphere. Two and a half minutes later, sunshine again - totality 2003 was history!

On the return to Melbourne, those of the jubilant passengers not uncorking champagne replayed their camcorder footage to each other and exchanged digital images. Memories of a once-in-a-lifetime experience...

Picture credits: J.-L. Dighaye, D. Finlay, J. Marot-Lassauzaie, J. Pasachoff, M. Poulton
Click on the thumbnail to see the full picture:

The EurAstro team: adviser Dr. M. Poulton, chairman J.-L. Dighaye, Miss EurAstro-elect Z. Edwards, supervisor Prof. J. Pasachoff

Glory aka antisolar halo over Antarctica

Before the eclipse: Shackleton Ice Shelf with icebergs

Partial phases of the solar eclipse

Lunar shadow coming from the left immediately before totality

Diamond ring - totality begins

Wide-angle view during totality with Venus visible

Composite pictures of the totality, focal lengths 200 to 500 mm

End of totality with diamond ring

Lunar shadow receding to the right immediately after totality

After the eclipse:West Ice Shelf with Gaussberg

Official presentation: J.-L. Dighaye shows eclipse slides to ESA Astronaut Ulf Merbold (middle) and EPO Vice-President P. Kyriakides (left)

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