Stunning total solar eclipse follows dramatic night after a spectacular electrical storm over Easter Island on Saturday night proved a fitting reminder of mother nature’s power before the skies cleared the following day so the Explore group could witness a very memorable total solar eclipse.
From the slopes of an extinct volcano and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Explore’s intrepid eclipse hunters observed a stunning total solar eclipse that turned day into night for over four and a half minutes. For the full report and exclusive photos - see our Eclipse 2010 blog.
One of groups that travelled out to Chile almost 2 weeks ago, accompanied by our expert astronomer, Francisco Diego, also had a very successful visit the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal in the Atacama Desert. Run by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), visits to the observatory are normally strictly controlled and so the fascinating visit by our group was a real privilege and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. One of our other groups, accompanied by expert Andy Green, is due to visit the VLT next week.
Exclusive News from the ground
We’ve now received an emotional and moving report from Gabriel Barok, the local organiser of these great tours to Easter Island to view the total solar eclipse.
As he safely sees our groups to Easter Island’s airport for the long flight over the Pacific Ocean back to Santiago in Chile, he reflects on some of the most memorable few days of his life.
Gabriel flew out to Easter Island two weeks before the eclipse to ensure that everything was going to be just right for our groups. He spent his days on a reconnoitre of possible eclipse viewing sites and in the days leading up to the eclipse Gabriel, along with our expert astronomers, Francisco Diego and Andy Green, visited the local meteorologist to learn about cloud behaviour on Easter Island. In fact, so dedicated were they to their cause that they often visited the meteorologist as many as 5 times on the same day!
After two days of fierce storms, the sky cleared on the day of the eclipse and Gabriel, Andy and Francisco decided to take the group to the quiet seclusion of Rano Kau volcano, a place that their exhaustive research had shown would provide an ideal eclipse viewing location.
Gabriel describes the moment, ‘We divided the groups, Francisco took one group along with the delicate telescopic equipment and I guided 24 trekkers to the top of the volcano to arrive 10 minutes before the darkest border of the moon touched the most clearest sun; thanks to the Explore eclipse sunglasses we could enjoy the most wonderful feast of a never seen dying light and growing deep emotion. At 14.08 came the most spectacular and unexpected performance of nature: a deep dark blue sky with the darkest black hole and a crown of flames surrounding it. Sighs, tears and shouts all along the hill of the famous mythological crater behind us sculpted an eternal moment, for ever.’
After the eclipse our groups returned to Rapa Nui, the island’s capital, where they enjoyed a local curanto feast followed by dancing and music. The spirit of the eclipse, Mother Nature and the music all came together and the group danced into the night.
When is the next total solar eclipse?
For those of you who weren’t able to make the journey to Easter Island, or who made the trip and have a yearning for more, then the next total solar eclipse will be in Australia in November 2012. Keep an eye on our website in the autumn for a chance to book Explore’s trips to Australia to view the next total solar eclipse.