Experiencing totality was amazing. As totality ends, the moon begins to rise above the sun during the eclipse and you stand ready to see what happens next. You look for Baily's Beads and then the Diamond Ring Effect.
Baily's Beads occurs just before and after totality for about 10 seconds. Baily's Beads are the rays of sunlight shining through the mountains and valleys on the Moon, which can create the effect of looking like a necklace. These must be observed through a solar filter.
The Diamond Ring effect is slowly developing in today's photos. You can also see the ruby accents in the chromosphere around the bead of light beaming and forming the diamond in the ring. Tomorrow's photo is a fabulous diamond ring and left me in awe.
Now some of you may be wondering if I had any knowledge of astronomy before this solar eclipse tour. The answer is I did not. I knew basics about astronomy from school but never learned or understood the details of a solar eclipse until this trip.
We planned to go on this trip for two years. The trip was created by Travel Quest International and Wilderness Travel. They arranged lectures throughout the cruise in the South Pacific. We also had star gazing in the Southern Hemisphere at night with the astronomers.
There will be another solar eclipse in the South Pacific on July 10, 2010 so you too can sign up and see this special event while also enjoying beautiful French Polynesia. The eclipse will be closer to Tahiti and Moorea and Bora Bora so you will not have to travel as far out to sea to observe it. Travel Quest also has a tour to Easter Island in Chile to experience the July 10, 2010 eclipse from land.
The lectures were given by top notch speakers including Alex Filippenko (astronomy), Rick Feinberg (astronomy), Owen Gingerich (astronomy), John Hay (environmental and marine sciences), Ethan Daniels (marine biology), and speakers from the Jean Michel Cousteau Ocean Futures Society.
Topics included Solar Eclipses, Photography Do's and Dont's, Dark Energy, Black Holes, Supernovas, Astronomy Basics and History, Climate Change, Reef Fishes, Sharks, Biomigration, and more. It definitely was like being back in school and we could have up to four lectures in a day. At least we were in school on a gorgeous ship called the Paul Gauguin in the South Seas north of Pukapuka island and west of French Polynesia and north of Cook Islands.
There were a lot of solar eclipse chasers and teachers, professors and scientists on the trip, but there was plenty of room for first time solar eclipse novices like me to go and enjoy the experience and learn so much about our remarkable universe.