Total Solar Eclipse; French Polynesia

(July 11, 2010)

fritz kleinhans

I had the good fortune to observe 3 1/2 minutes of totality from Hao Atoll in French Polynesia with Ring of Fire Expeditions let by Paul Maley.  This eclipse crossed the South Pacific, touching very few land areas.  god planned this eclipse a very long time ago.  I began thinking about it only four or five years ago.  I had romantic visions:  great eclipse, great location.  All that was needed to complete the picture was a great gal; and I thought I had found one :-)  Then to top it off, ROFE Expeditions began offering eclipse trips on the beautiful sailing ship Star Clipper.  Perfect!  But the trip was still two years in the future.   I always have a Plan  B, so I asked my daughter if she would be my 'back up' companion on the trip if anything went awry with my 'master' plan.  She allowed as how two years away was an awfullllly long time to plan ahead (obviously not an eclipse addict).  Then that great gal went up in smoke; my visions crushed.   But wait, Star Clipper pulled out of French Polynesia.  None of this was meant to be.  It was all writ in the stars from the very beginning; - - - and so I felt better.  Next, my cousin considered joining me, but we were unable to find a mutually agreeable trip (you missed out Judy).  Many friends asked "How can you go to this far away place by yourself?"  I assured them that amateur astronomers and eclipse chasers are instant friends, where ever they meet.  And so it was with this trip.  I made a great many new friends and never had a lonely moment; thank you all.  The only sad note was the need to split our group between two charter flights and two Atolls.  Group A got to observe four minutes of clouds from Hikueru Atoll while Group B got to observe three and a half minutes of totality from Hao Atoll.  So it is with the Sky Gods.  We did all get a chance for some night time sky viewing from a dark location out of town.  I was very pleased to observe the dust lane in NGC 5128 with 30x77 binoculars.

I arrived on Monday July 5th and chilled out on the Sofitel grounds, which are beautiful, for the next three days. On Thursday we did a half day tour of Papeete and the northern coast, seeing Point Venus and Fa'aurumai Waterfall.  Friday was off to Moorea all day for sightseeing, swimming with manta rays, and picnicking on the beach.  Friday nite was spent observing the southern skies from a relatively dark site using my 30x77 binoculars and concentrating on the southern Milky Way.  Saturday, up late and to bed early!  Eclipse Day, Sunday, began about 2 AM when we had to get up to catch our charter flight to Hao Atoll.  We observed from near the airport terminal; X marks my location. Then there was an ECLIPSE :-)   Even on this small atoll, location is everything.  Observers a few miles away in town were troubled with clouds.  Eclipse Day 'ended' when I reached Indianapolis at 10:50 PM Monday!

I have increasingly come to the belief that the best view of an eclipse is obtained with the naked eye, supplemented with hand held binoculars (say Canon 15x IS)  Although my 30x77 binoculars gave a nice view of the prominences and corona, they could not capture the broader grandeur of the eclipse.  For those who have never observed a total solar eclipse, the grandeur and excitement are impossible to adequately describe.  Here is the best attempt I know of.  Imagine the difference between having sex described to you versus experiencing it.  Now you understand the problem.


The French Polynesia pictures were taken with an Olympus Stylus 1030SW 10 MP Point and Shoot Camera.  They all have been edited to remove unwanted hands, feet, arms, and people :-), as needed, for best composition.  I am allergic to flash so the low light shots show lots of high ISO noise.  Thank you to the several people, Dee Ann, Derek, Lynn, Michelle, who took shots of me with my or their camera.  PS: I am NOT responsible for the halo around my head in the water fall picture.

The Eclipse pictures were taken with a Hutech modified Canon 400D and a Tamron 18 to 250 mm super zoom at the 250 mm setting.  The images were processed in Picture Window Pro 4.0  Some have been rotated to better fit the a horizontal rectangle.  Many of you picked up a star close to the sun.  It is Delta Gemini.

Most of the pictures are clickable and yield higher resolution shots.



French Polynesia Pics                                                                  Eclipse Pics


Ring of Fire Home


ROFE Eclipse Report

Mike Mah Eclipse Page

Alan Dyer Eclipse Pics (starting at the middle of the page)

Don Gardner Eclipse Pics

Howard Anton Duncan Pics


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