EurAstro Solar Eclipse Mission to Australia December 2002
After having toured Chile and its observatories, an EurAstro team, comprising
our astronomy specialists Jean-Luc Dighaye and Henri Beuchat, a freelance journalist
(Étienne Gillig), plus two tourists, went to Australia.
Here a brief description of our activities:
Dec 1: we visited Mt Stromlo - a daytime visit of the telescopes
including the heliostat, and an observation evening with the historic 9"
Dec 2: we attended a session of the Canberra Planetarium and saw their
telescopes. Then, in Adelaide, we met Dr. Uri Scelwyn, an active amateur
astronomer and manager of our eclipse tour.
Dec 3: after some sightseeing in Adelaide, we asked for the last eclipse
information and tips at the University's planetarium and we made an
Dec 4: we took a private plane to Kondoolka, where the farmers had made
any possible efforts for us to have a pleasant and well-organised stay.
We made for the eclipse site indicated by Uri, deploying our stuff at
31.82611°S 134.62344°E exactly. Weather was much cooler than expected,
no more than 25°C with strong breeze and wind gusts - we had to bury our
tripod legs in the sand.
At eclipse time, the sky was almost completely clear with just some
scattered clouds towards the horizon. We took eclipse pictures with
135mm, 300mm and (1000mm & flat-field-converter x3.43) focal lengths,
and videos with a digital camcorder behind a x30 telescope, and an
We believe that the "natural flash spectrum", namely the solar
chromosphere turned into a rainbow by differential atmospheric
refraction in view of the Sun's low altitude, was recorded in our high
magnification images. See a colour-enhanced sample below.
The corona was cushion-shaped, as noticed visually and on the 300mm
pictures. Due to uneven terrain, we did not attempt to record shadow
bands. We did not see Mercury with the naked eye.
Sunset with the partial phase still in progress was superb, anomalous
dispersion providing strange shapes with lots of green flashes.
After dark, a barbecue and a star party had been organised - but we were
too tired and too frigorified to really enjoy them...
Dec 5: we came back to Adelaide, proceeding to Sydney in the evening -
we saw the "new Moon" from the plane!
Dec 6: at dawn, we saw Venus rising above the Opera (we had optimised
our hotel location for that "conjunction"). After some tourism
(including old Sydney's observatory), we spent the evening at the Opera
- Swan Lake, if you want to know; however, I was more interested in
taking ultra-wide-field pictures outside, including the setting Moon.
Dec 7: we could not see Venus any more since we were "smoked out" -
indeed, Sydney was engulfed in the smoke of those catastrophic bush
fires. So, it was time for gastronomic (pun intended) activities, and
for coming back to Europe.
Below we present some images of the eclipse. Click on the thumbnail to see the
Pictures with 3.43m focal length: (J.-L. Dighaye):
The "Natural Flash Spectrum" at t2
Chromosphere and prominences
Chromosphere and inner corona
Diamond Ring after t3
The "Natural Flash Spectrum" after T3
Setting of the partially eclipsed Sun
notice the airplane!
Setting of the partially eclipsed Sun,
with a "Green Flash"
Pictures with 300 mm focal length (É. Gillig):
Baily's Beads before t2
Diamond Ring after t3
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