Total Solar Eclipse 2006 - Mission to Libya
J.-L. Dighaye, M. Rudolf
EurAstro 2006 - SPSE & TSE Libya
by Jean-Luc Dighaye
EurAstro sent a team of 5 persons to Libya for observing the ASE of 03
October 2005 .
original project was to come back, this time with 12 persons, at the
same place to observe the TSE of 29 March 2006, and re-do the Eddington
experiment pertaining to Sun-induced star light bending. Libyan
authorities decided otherwise: our tour operator of 2005 was denied the
right to organise the 2006 tour, and our group was disbanded.
Eventually, Dr. Manfred Rudolf and myself booked with Winzrik, the
official - and very expensive - operator in the region of Waw an Namus.
However, an exceptional event would make our expedition worth its price:
Sebha University's International Symposium "Solar Physics & Solar
Eclipse", held at the very same place of the TSE observations, with a
scientific part organised by Prof. Stenflo and Dr. Shalabiea, in which
Prof. Al-Naimiy played an instrumental role as to international
cooperation. About 60 other scientists and eclipse observers took part
in the SPSE.
2. Transportation and Accommodation
The Libyan military helped us reach Waw al Kebir by plane, then Waw an
Namus by helicopter. In spite of a recent dust storm, everything was
ready for us when we arrived at the SPSE on 27 March in the morning,
thanks to the efforts of Rob Schreuders, helped by his wife and Xavier
Jubier. Attendees had huts with beds and power supply in them, toilets
and showers outside, and wireless Internet connection. A large,
well-decorated tent housed the SPSE adjacent to a dining tent.
Unloading the plane...
...and loading the helicopter
3. Around the SPSE
I gave two lectures, one on the Eddington experiment and another one on
recent eclipse missions. Attendees asked further questions about safe
eclipse viewing. The Libyan television interviewed me; so did ZDF and
RAI reporters. Manfred and I organised stargazing parties, not only
around midnight after the lectures - Saturn, Jupiter and star clusters
were shown - but also at dawn (Venus) and after dusk (artificial
satellites, zodiacal light). "I learned a lot with you!" said Prof.
Manfred took a day off and went to the Waw an Namus volcano by
helicopter - landing inside the crater was a premiere!
Waw an Namus
4. Eclipse Observations
The weather could hardly have been better on eclipse day (which was also
my birthday - 29 March): perfectly clear sky, and a fresh breeze
(temperature 21° at mid-eclipse) devoid of sand particles. Now, about
3000 eclipse chasers had gathered around the camp, and everybody
re-checked their equipment. Thanks to Manfred's perfectly prepared
multi-camera set-up, I even had some spare seconds, during this 4-minute
deep totality, to aim stabilised binoculars at the Sun. I thought I saw
earthshine - and I was right: even unprocessed pictures reveal
conspicuous lunar features.
We were further involved in Landon Noll's search for Vulcanoid project .
First results appear promising.
Post-eclipse activities were done in a rush, since I wanted to show,
only 2 hours after the eclipse, our first images at the SPSE closing
session, after e-mailing EurAstro executives and before preparing DVDs
for the SPSE organisers.
Before & after totality
Totality with fisheye
Earthshine and corona
5. Back in Tripoli
On 30 March, the military sent us an armada of helicopters and biplanes
for transportation back to Waw al Kebir, where a quadrireactor cargo
then took us back to Tripoli. Like in 2005, we stayed at Prof.
Carriere's delightful private quarters - where I prepared a final slide
show presented at the Italian Cultural Institute on 01 April - and
visited the National Museum, Leptis Magna, Villa Silin and other
Flowers at Leptis Magna
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