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Written by Martin Larsen   
Monday, 01 May 2006

img_0129This site is dedicated to one of the most spectacular natural wonders — the total solar eclipse. Or rather, my experience with those eclipses!

Partial eclipses are not rare. I have seen plenty, and you have probably too. So perhaps you say: "Why so much fuss about a few minutes? Why travel thousands of kilometers? I have seen an 90% partial eclipse, and I can't imagine traveling for hours and spending $$$ to get something only 10% better!"

Well, then you got it wrong! No matter how great the partial eclipse might be, it is still partial and cannot be compared to a TSE (short for total solar eclipse). To see a partial eclipse and claim that you have seen enough is like standing outside the concert hall and say that you have seen the concert just because you could hear the music!

saros Everything that is visible during the few minutes of totality is always present. But the bright light from the Sun prevents you from observing it. Even the tiniest crescent of the partial eclipse is bright enough to not only dazzle your eyesight, but to actually damage it permanently. That is why you cannot compare partial eclipses to TSE's (and why you have to wear special eclipse glasses, except for the totality where they can be safely removed).

My first attempt was in Southern Germany on August 11, 1999, near Stuttgart. I write "attempt" for it was pouring down! Still, it was uncanny to experience the darkness of the eclipse. I took a few photos of the eclipse situation which you can see in this gallery. After the not so succesful eclipse, I said to my girlfriend: Well, then we just go to Africa in 2001!

And so we did. We went on a nice safari with the South African safari company, Drifters, that included the TSE on June 21, 2001. This time the weather was perfect and we saw the eclipse from a tiny sandy island on the Zambesi River in Zambia, surrounded by crocodiles and roaring hippos that thought it was night! That was really awesome — and I was hooked! My camera at that time was not really suited for eclipse photography, but see these shots.

And now to the still fresh TSE of March 29, this year! We chose Turkey because we know that country very well from numerous travels, and I speak the language so-so. The weather prospects was good, but not quite as good as for Libya for example. But still, it was much easier and cheaper to go to Turkey. And thankfully the weather turned out perfect.

sarosThe center line went through the tourist town of Side in the Antalya region. We decided to observe the eclipse from the ancient Apollo temple near the harbour. And so did a few thousand other people! The sum of so many people's reactions and emotional outbursts really added to the experience. It was different from the wonderful natural experience on the Zambesi River in 2001, but in its own way just as fascinating.

sarosThis time I was equipped with a brand new Canon EOS 350D digital single lens reflex camera, a 300 mm zoom, a laptop and a brilliant piece of software to control the camera. A TSE is something to experience with all you senses. It would be a sin to see it through the camera lens! But the eclipse software allowed me to enjoy the phenomenon fully, knowing that the laptop would control the camera automatically and guide it through a quite complex photo session. I only had to spent a few seconds midway to ensure the sun was still within the field (mind you, the sun is moving on the sky!). The resulting photos are quite satisfactory...

Furthermore I put up a video camera on a tripod, filming not the eclipsed sun, but the eclipse site and the people's reactions. Back at home I (with a lot of help from my brother, Søren Hyldgaard), made a short movie with music and intervowen still shots of the eclipse. The movie gives a good feeling of how it is too experience a total solar eclipse.

Ok - enough talking. Let's go to the gallery or the movie!



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