The EurAstro 2005 Hybrid Solar Eclipse Cruise
Report on the EurAstro 2005 / Hybrid Solar Eclipse cruise (m/s Paul Gauguin)
The solar eclipse of 08 Apr 05 was of the annular-total-annular type, often
referred to as hybrid. When total, it is necessarily of short duration and
rather bright since the Moon is hardly large enough to completely cover the
Three eclipse cruises had been organised: the Paul Gauguin' and the
Discovery' ones, both starting from Papeete, Tahiti, and the Legend' one
starting from the Galapagos Islands. I first met Dr. Matthew Poulton and Annie
Decroix in Papeete before they went for the Discovery cruise, then Dr. Glenn
Schneider's unofficial party of veteran eclipse chasers.
Matthew pointed out that there was an opportunity to observe with the
Société Astronomique de Tahiti (SAT) before joining our
respective cruises. Indeed, we got an appointment with observer Claude Lamotte,
who kindly showed us the SAT main telescope during daytime and prepared it
for a star party at night. This self-made 660mm automated altazimuth reflector
is a true wonder of craftsmanship; under their surprisingly dark site (in
view of the proximity of the airport), it reveals subtle colours in star
clusters - each star of omega Cen comes out with a distinct hue - and
countless shades in nebulae around eta Car. Planetary work is seeing-limited,
and I could not notice any aberration, thus both the figure and the
collimation of the mirrors must have been excellent. Really a must-see in
Link to the SAT and their instruments: http://astrosurf.com/sat
The Paul Gauguin is a floating Radisson hotel, with all the luxury you would
expect there, three gastronomic restaurants, and the beautiful smiling
Gauguines. If I had a body like that, I would smile too!" said a friend of
The ship reached Pitcairn - the famous place where the mutineers of the Bounty
settled - shortly before the eclipse. Captain Gilles Bossard, now a honorary
EurAstro member, would position the ship according to Glenn's group
suggestions in order to maximise the odds of seeing the totality.
Indeed, full steam ahead, we just escaped threatening clouds as totality set.
Venus was visible to the right of the Sun. After some thirty brief seconds,
totality was over. Visual observers saw prominences and/or the chromosphere
during the whole of the totality. I took images with a Nikon D100 and a
70-200 lens, and details of the third contact with a Canon RT and a 1000mm lens.
Weather was fine at the intercept point of the Discovery. Annie took fine
pictures with a Nikon and a 550mm lens on ISO 400 film.
Glenn's group celebrated in the usual
fashion - together with some eclipse virgins.
As the ship proceeded to the Marquesas Islands then back to Fakarava, Moorea
and Tahiti, Glenn and his team would have fun with the inhabitants of the
Sea life was best seen from underwater. Here some photographs taken in the clear waters
of the lagoons:
Landscapes were fantastic, and so was the ever-changing weather, from the last
moon to the last sun ray. It was an unforgettable eclipse cruise. Now, let's
get ready for the next EurAstro eclipse missions...