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Old 27-03-2015, 03:55 AM
N1 (Mirko)
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Dunners Nu Zulland
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Total Solar Eclipse, 20 March 2015

Location: Air Berlin flight AB1020 ZRH-ZRH, 62.7N, 9,6W, Altitude 34,000ft
Time: 9.41 - 9.45 UT
Seeing: 10/10
Transparency: 10/10
Outside Temp: -65C
Wind: aprox. 50km/h SE
Scope: none
Object: Sun, Moon, Venus
Event: Total Solar Eclipse; duration of Totality: 3m 46s

I had doubts whether observing from an airplane would be a worthwhile undertaking but it turned out to be a very rewarding experience. This may not always be the case, but this event was well suited for this type of observation with the Sun's azimuth perpendicular to the travel direction of the shadow (and that of the plane) and the Sun at only 18. After a deepening partial eclipse with impressive reduction in ambient light, the umbral shadow appeared on the horizon behind us andwas seen several minutes before 2nd contact, on both sides, catching up fast. It divided both the sky and the cloud deck below in light and dark. Amazing pastel colours. Eerily swift movement of shadow. Watched clouds disappear in darkness behind us, until the leading edge of the Umbra caught up with the plane and second contact occurred. At that point the Corona had been visible for at least 15 seconds as brief glimpses and camera display had shown. Beautiful Diamond Ring but no Baily's Beads seen with naked eye on 2nd contact. Edges of Umbra projected onto the clouds were extremely well defined. A large prominence at about 10 o'clock, which I had seen from the ground using a H alpha telescope on the previous afternoon was still there, but the brightness of the inner Corona reduced contrast significantly compared to H alpha viewing. Prominences were a very bright pink, rather than the red seen through Ha filters. Huge dynamic range within the corona itself. Even the best single or composite images available today are an approximation at best. Best word for me to describe it: "alive". Lunar disk decidedly non-black, but with bluish hues. Totality overtook us, with Venus shining brilliantly to the East of the eclipsed Sun. 3rd contact occurred, again no Baily's Beads visible to me. A fiercely white beam, so thin and bright that it seemed capable of cutting through anything.

Return flight was spent dealing with endorphine overload. I resisted looking at any photos until the real thing had had time to sink in.

Friends back in Germany saw a 70-75% Partial and recorded 10 extra seconds on 4th contact seen in Ha, as well as a temperature drop of 4K between 1st contact and mid-eclipse.

Many areas of Europe were treated to fine weather and millions would have seen it there. This is one eclipse to remember.
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