In the Dutch Star Guide 2006 I had found a comprehensive description of the coming total eclipse of the sun. It would be visible in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Europe and part of Asia. Especially the Turkish South Coast appealed to me, because combining the observation of the eclipse with an early spring vacation seemed very attractive, to me and my family. My reservation in the first week of January turned out to be just in time: practically all seats on flights to the region were occupied in the requested week. The travel agent was astonished. Couldn't I just go the week before, or after? Of course I knew exactly why precisely that week was so popular, and NO, any other week just wouldn't do! At last I succeeded in making a reservation for an arrangement, in hotel Serra Palace on the Turkish South Coast, in the village of Kizilot, about 5 miles east of Side and Manavgat. The ribbon across the earth within which the eclipse would be total ran right across that location. The central line, on which the totality was predicted to last no less than 3 minutes and 45 seconds, was only 10 miles away from our hotel, to the West.
Naturally I prepared myself for the occasion, collecting information about time and place, photographing, solar filters, shutter speeds, which all could be found on the Dutch web site of Society De Koepel on solar eclipses.
The circumstances turned out to be ideal. The eclipse would take place from 12:38 to 15:14 h, local time, from first to last contact, very conveniently in the middle of the day. On the day of the eclipse there was a clear blue sky all day, cloudless, the sun stood high and there was a clear view to all sides, in the hotel garden, where we settled, near the pools. The eclipse could be observed freely from the beginning till the end.
Only amateur equipment was used. The key pictures have been taken with a traditional analogue single lens reflex camera, an Olympus OM-2N, with an OM Zuiko 200 mm F4 telelens and an OM Zuiko 2x teleconverter. Hence the effective focal length was 400 mm. The camera was mounted on a simple tripod. During the partial phase of the eclipse an Astrosolar filterfoil was placed in front of the telelens, of type ND-5 (blocks 99,999% of the solar light). The foil had been pinched between cardboard plates and slit in a Cokin filter mount. The film in the camera was Ektachrome Elitechrome 100 for slides. The shutter could be released with a remote cord.
After the total phase, the receding of the moon has been recorded with a second camera: an automatic Minolta Dynax 700SI single lens reflex, autofocus, but analogue as well. This camera was equipped with a Minolta Dynax XI 100-300 mm F/4.5-5.6 zoom telelens. Naturally, all pictures were taken in the maximal zoom setting, i.e. 300 mm. This camera, too, was mounted on the same tripod and the same ND-5 filter was used. Finally, the same slide film Elitechrome 100 was used.
My digital camera Fujifilm S602 Zoom turned out to be very unsuited, as expected. Automatic focusing failed and manual focusing was very awkward indeed. The extreme zoom setting, corresponding to a focal length of 210 mm on a standard camera, was inadequate, really. Moreover, the avi movie of the totality phase was recorded with automatic exposure, which couldn't be switched off. Hence, as predicted by the experts, it turned out to be heavily overexposed. Only the sound track of the people present was nice enough to keep.
The slides have been scanned digitally with a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual II AF-2820 U film scanner, carefully manually focused at the solar image, using the maximal resolution of 2820 dpi. All pictures have been edited using Adobe Photoshop Elements 4: touching up specks (after concluding there appeared to be no sunspots) , equalizing brightness and colour for all pictures, equalizing the absolute positions within a fixed frame (shifting semi-transparent layers to fit).
We did not turn to bed before 5 in the morning, the night before the eclipse, due to our late flight. However, because of the convenient time schedule of the eclipse, we did get the chance to sleep in, have a relaxed breakfast (brunch really) and, finally, to settle in a well chosen spot, behind the hotel, near the children's pool. Various groups of people had gathered to watch the predicted phenomenon, some equipped with impressive photographic gear. One could not call it busy or noisy, though. The vast majority of tourists had made its way to the beach, where a special happening had been arranged with music and snacks. Fortunately so.
The initial stage was somewhat boring. Though I must say it really is surprising and, in a way, a relief, that such a special event, predicted ages ago with an accuracy of seconds, actually takes place at exactly the correct moment. It takes the moon about one hour and twenty minutes to totally eclipse the solar disc. Every ten minutes I took a picture with the Olympus camera as well as the digital camera, just to make sure. Making notes, observing the sun with eclipse shades, recording the atmosphere of the event on camera, moving the camera and the sun-shade, I had plenty to do. The weather was fine, about twenty centigrade, the children were playing in or near the pool in little swimming pants. My wife was reading a book.
About 13:30 h the temperature dropped, it became somewhat chilly, even forcing the children to duck under a towel and to shiver on a stretcher. The light dimmed, the twilight appeared to begin. That really looks odd, in mid daylight, under a clear blue sky. Tension slowly rose. All that was left of the solar disc was a small fringe. Just about one minute before totality I started the video recording on the digital camera. I also took a quick sequence of pictures of the disappearing edge of the sun. The eclipse shades could now be put aside, the filters could be removed from the cameras: the moment was there! One last flash of direct sunlight, an image known as the diamond ring., as the aureole of the solar corona appeared... Around me people started shouting excitedly, in awe of the marvelous spectacle in the sky. I would not be surprised if I was one of those people, I could not help myself.
There were just a few seconds available for staring at the sky wondering: there was work to do. It would take a long sequence of exposures, with widely varying exposure times, to cover all the aspects of the eclipse on film. In no time I ran out of film. At that point I allowed myself a little time to enjoy the beautiful sight in the sky of the sun, totally eclipsed by the moon. Like a black hole it appeared, a dark gem, with a brightly shining halo around it, high up in a dark blue sky. I noticed a bright star, in the middle of the sun and the western horizon. I realized it must be Venus. On mid day! The environment, too, looked bizarre, in deep twilight. I only noticed how poor the light really was, as I tried to record the scenery in a few quick shots of the Minolta camera: the automatic exposure took seconds, really! I kept on shooting until the sun had just began to reappear.
My wife, too, enjoyed the spectacle very much. Our children, however, didn't seem to care much for this once-in-a-lifetime-event, if they saw the actual eclipse at all. Of course, the phenomenon is scary, indeed, and not really a nice experience for a child that doesn't yet understand it.
Excited and deeply satisfied about the whole process I decided to complete the photographic session. Dutyfully I took a picture, again every ten minutes, of the ever receding moon. I just had to complete what I started, as my wife and children went back to the room.
As a matter of fact I was only really satisfied after mounting the slides, two weeks later. Despite the fact that many slides turned out to be unsharp, due to camera motion, especially the long exposures to record the sun's outer corona, a sufficient part was reasonably sharp. Each phase had been recorded successfully at least once. Although, compared to all those magnificent amateur photographs on the web site of De Koepel I really do have a lot to learn yet...
And what about the rest of our vacation? That, too, was a success. If you like ancient archeological sites, there is no need to get bored for even one minute!
Click on the thumbnails below to look at the phases of the solar eclipse.
|Start-up phase, partial eclipse 34%||Start-up phase, partial eclipse 97%||Just before totality, last sun rays, the "Diamond Ring"||Total eclipse with prominences and inner corona|
|Total eclipse with prominences (solar flares)||Total eclipse with solar corona (disperse hot gases)||Final phase, partial eclipse 83%||Final phase, partial eclipse 4%|
From all available successful exposures, the following animation has been composed.
Flash 551x551, solar image diameter 206 pixels, 26 picture objects and 7 texts, 10 frames / sec, with dissolve effect, 65 seconds in total, 2.2 MB, Flash Player required
Last updated April 14th, 2007
Back to Astronomy hobby page or Joop's home page