Total Solar Eclipse on 29. March 2006

Report by Heinz Scsibrany
German version
At good weather conditions I observed the total solar eclipse on March, 29th 2006 in Kumköy near Side / Turkey. Although the duration of totality and the weather prospects would haven been better in Libya I decided to go to Turkey, especially because of the "Eclipse tax" which was introduced by the Libyen governement in October 2005.

The place where I observed the eclipse was the hotel Cesar's Resort, which opened because of the eclipse observers one week earlier after winter closing.


 
The picture at right shows the terrace of the hotel where I observed the eclipse together with other eclipse observers.

With a GPS-mouse I found the following coordinates:
36°48'07" North, 31°21'18" East
This position was less than 1,5 km west of the centerline of the eclipse which was neglectable, as the umbra of the moon had a diameter of 168 km. 

Using those coordinates and an improved version of my WinEclipse program  I was able to calculate the instants of 2nd and 3rd contact:
2. Contact: 13:54:59  and 3. Contact: 13:58:46 
(in eastern european daylight saving time = UT + 3 hours) 

(The 2nd contact determines the beginning of totality and 3rd contact its end.)



The remarkable about the following pictures, made with the digital cameras Olympus C2100 and C740 is that they were made completely automatic with no action needed to be taken during totality. That means both cameras were remote controlled by a computer via USB connection. I developed the computer program necessary to do this during the last 3 months using a software developement kit (SDK) provided by Olympus (http://developer.olympus.com). This SDK enables full control over the cameras especially control of aperture, exposure time, zoom length and of course capturing of a picture.
The cameras where mount on a Vixen Superpolaris mount which guided them by a stepper motor. The computer, which controlled the cameras was a 3 1/2 year old Notebook with AMD mobile CPU under Windows XP.

Because exact timing of the exposures depended on the system time of the computer this was set to GPS-time about 4 hours before the eclipse, on the morning of march 29th.
I switched on the computer about 8 minutes before totality, connected the two cameras to USB and finally started the program which controlled the cameras. About 2 minutes before 2nd contact I removed the solar filters from the objectiv lenses.
With some relieve I noted the clicking of the cameras 30 seconds before 2nd contact, which convinced me that the controlling program worked.

Keeping this in mind I observed the eclipse very relaxed and casually made some pictures with a camera with a 500 mm lens on a 200 ASA film.
 

The picture at left was made 6 seconds before 2nd contact.
Digital camera Olympus C2100
Exposure time 1/800 s, aperture 3.5

One can see two red prominences up and right of the last bit of sun.


 
The picture above was made at 13:56:54 local time
Digital camera Olympus C740
Exposure time 1/8 s, aperture 3.7

Because of the low activity of the sun the corona has its maximum extension in the plane of suns equator. 

The picture above was made at 13:56:59 local time (exactly 2 minutes after 2nd contact)
Digital camera Olympus C2100
Exposure time 1/250 s, aperture 3.5

One can easily recognize the magnetic poles of the sun.

After 3 minutes and 47 seconds totality ended with remarkable bailey beads which can be seen in the picture at left.
This was taken at 13:58:47 local time, about 1 second after 3rd contact.

Digital camera Olympus C2100
Exposure time 1/800 s, aperture 8

Left of the first sunlight one can see the red chromosphere and a small prominence.

As one can see, the sun reappeared exactly opposite to the point where it disappeared at 2nd contact (see above). This shows that the observing site was very near the center line of the eclipse.

 

Since a number of digital cameras, especially digital reflex cameras can be remote controlled by a computer (as far as there is support from the camera's manufacturer) every eclipse in future can be photographed automatically. The only additional equipment needed is a notebook computer with USB connection (USB 1.1 is sufficient).


With the reflex camera with the 500 mm, f:8 lens, the picture at right was made.
Exposure time: 1/2 second, 200 ASA film

It shows the remarkable streamers of the corona, which were also a dominant feature when observing the eclipsed sun with the naked eye.

The picture below shows the planet Venus as well as the orange-red coloured horizon during the total phase of the eclipse (from a video which was made with an Olympus C765).

The red colour of the horizon is, because the regions near the border of the umbra (of the moon) are illuminated by the red chromosphere of the sun.


The picture above shows the last rays of sun and prominences at second contact.
500 mm lens, 200 ASA film, 1/1000 second

Above picture shows baileys beads and the chromosphere at third contact.
When you compare this with the picture at left you see that the western fringe of the moon is more mountainous than the eastern one. Because of this, there are more beads visible at third contact. 
500 mm lens, 200 ASA film, 1/1000 second

Additional results follow as soon as available !

See also: Solar eclipses 2006 till 2009, pictures of the total solar eclipse on 21. Juni 2001


Copyright 2006 by Heinz Scsibrany. Pictures and text may be used for non commercial purposes, provided this site is referenced as source.
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