Eclipse 98

1998 Feb 26

My first (total) eclipse!

My father and I, thanks to my iniciative, were invited to La Mina, the largest open air coal mining in south America. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. and proceeded to arrive at the airport at 5:30. At the airport we met up with a close observing buddy who also managed to get invited over. (The invitation included free tickets on the company's private airplanes).

La Mina is a carbon mining complex part owned by Exxon (thru a subsidiary called Intercor) and part owned by the Colombian government. and is about 50 kilometers north of the centerline.

Once we arrived (arouond 8:30 a.m.), we looked up at the sky and saw lots and lots of clouds, strange for a desert, we were dejected. We considered sacrificing a goat to a local tribal deity to see if things got better. Luckily, after an hour had passed, the sky was very clear.

After a while, and a tour through the local facilities, we set up our litle scope (an ETX) on a tripod with its 1000 Oaks filter, and a camera (pentax) stuck to its behind.

So, you can imagine 3 persons setting up a little apparatus and looking up at the sky, this obviously attracted the attention of several curious passerbys. Fortunately we had several eclipse viewers, and we were able to share the experience. Soon, around 50 people had gathered around, all of them making a line to look through our little scope (we were joking about asking for money for each observation, we might heve advanced our LXD-500 fund!).

By this time I was busy trying to observe, and keep an eye on who had the 3 eclipse viewers that were being passed around, fortunately some of the people hanging around brought their own little viewers.

Everyone took turns on watching the vanishing sun through the telescope.

Once totality neared, my dad hogged the scope, explainming to everyone of the bystanders that we had traveled all the way just to observe this in particular. between my dad, our friend and me we shared about a minute of observing time. The rest of the time was spent on taking pictures of the event.

Once totality ended, most people went away. We hung around, waiting for some sunspots we had observed to emerge. A nice looking freckled woman that hung about was very interested in seeing the "freckles on the sun".

Soon after, we had lunch, had another smallish tour, and left La Mina. We arrived home around 9:00 p.m.

I was amazed at what I saw. I've seen pictures of the eclipse hundreds of times, but nothing can compare to actually being there. I now understand all the "eclipse hunters" and plan on chasing them myself when I have the re$ource$ to do so.

did anyone else notice a couple of outstanding solar flares?

I saw two very big onse, ons to the upper left, and one to the lower right of the disc, around 10 and 4 o'clock.

I took plenty of pictures but due to the breeze (and our not very steady tripod) only about 4 of the pictures we took of totality are decent enough to share. Once I scan them I plan on putting them up on a webpage for all to see. Several of the picture from the occultation itself and of us at the site are also around. I plan on making a little "Eclipse experience" webpage, once I finally get around to it, I'll publish the page address.

If anyone wants any pictures anyway just e-mail me and as soon as I can get them scanned I'll send you a copy!

What an orgasmic experience!

Fernando Pertuz 1998 Mar 2