observation report of the total solar eclipse 21.06.2001

German Version .
from Heinz Scsibrany
visibility area This solar eclipse was visible in the african states Angola, Sambia, Simbabwe and Mocambique and in Madagascar. Because of meteorological and political reasons our interest focuses from the very beginning on Sambia whose capital Lusaka was in the totality zone and where the totality lasted for 3 Minutes 14 Seconds. Unfortunately we encountered high prices for journeys through this country. Therefore the idea was born to fly to Lusaka airport, observe the eclipse near the airport and then take the same plane back to europe (austria). Finally the astronomy interested pilot at Austrian Airlines, Walter Max Schwendenwein organized - together with Astronomy-Travel - this short trip to Lusaka. 
The night flight began at 18.45 on June 20th 2001 with take off of the Airbus A340-300 with 264 passengers and 88.5 t fuel from the airport Vienna. 8.5 hours later we arrived at Lusaka airport, where it was quite cool with a temperature around 8 °C.  Airbus A340 in Lusaka airport

Near by the airport was a large area reserved for eclipse chasers with sanitary facilities and security service.
observation area near Lusaka airport
Within this large area was a separate "technical area" reserved for observers with telescope equipment. Outside, the local people crowded the nearer the beginning of partial eclipse came.

About half an hour before totality it was obvious that something strange was going on: the clear sky turns darker, the wind faded and temperature noticably dropped.
2.contact (beginning of totality) About five minutes before totality some birds flew around loudly protesting against closing in darkness. The nearer totality came, the more and more ecstatic the atmosphere became. 
At left picture of the second contact taken with digital camera: f=388mm, f:4.5, 1/800 Second 
Note the red chromosphere around the last bit of sun and some red prominences.
The picture at right was also taken with an Olympus digital camera C2100: f=388 mm, f:4.5, 1/8 Second 
As you see the solar corona shows the typical round shape which is characteristic for a high solar activity. At upper right, about one Sun (Moon) diameter distant from the eclipsed sun, one can see the star 1 Gemini. (I confirmed with other pictures this tiny dot beeing really a star.)
The corona is the "atmosphere" of the sun, a very hot gas shell with a very low density (the density of the best vacuum we can achieve on earth is much higher).
The picture at right shows at lower left the planet Jupiter: 
f=140 mm, f:4.5, 1/5 second 
(the focal length f=140 mm refers to the film format 24 * 36 mm, der real range of focal length of the digital camera is 7 - 70 mm).
Eclipsed sun and jupiter
3.contact After 3 minutes 27 seconds totality ended (this duration is longer than that in Lusaka, because the airport is north of the capital and so nearer to the centerline of the eclipse).
The picture at left shows 3rd contact: f=388 mm, f:4.5, 1/200 second 
The pictures at right show the bailey beads at 3rd contact taken with a tele photo lens 500 mm f:8 + 2-times converter, 1/1000 second on Kodak film 100 ASA. bailey beads at 3rd contact bailey beads at 3rd contact bailey beads at 3rd contact

Some Links:
Preview on Solar Eclipses 2006 through 2009.
Pictures of the total solar eclipse on 29 March 2006
See also www.eclipse.za.net, an eclipse website about eclipses in Africa, with graphics made with my program WinEclipse.
Moon shadow viewed from weather satellite as animated GIF.
Beautiful Eclipse Report from Kurt Varmuza
Some results of Richard Bareford: Video and some Photos
Some other reports from Bob Yen and Eric Flescher.


Copyright 2006 by Heinz Scsibrany. Pictures and text may be used for non commercial purposes, provided this site is referenced as source.
Last change on 17.04.2006.
Any ideas or criticism are appreciated: .