Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Diamond Ring Society

On Saturday November 15 there was another meeting of the 'Diamond Ring Society'. It's a not-so-secret cabal of Dutch solar eclipse chasers, consisting of my friends Peter v/d Linde, Bram LaPort, Ellen Dautzenberg and Freek Slangen. We met up in a bar in Amsterdam, exchanged pictures (that is: most of them gave CD-roms with pictures to me, as I'm not a photographer), and we discussed future solar eclipses.

First, finally some pictures of the August 1, 2008 total solar eclipse near Novosibirsk:

The shadow of the moon racing towards us over the lake;

The sky at the beginning of totality;

Snapshots of the total solar eclipse sequence:

First Contact until Second Contact;

Second Contact to Third Contact (totality with one protuberance and the solar wind);

Third contact to Fourth Contact;

The sky at the end of totality;

The shadow of the moon racing away from us across the lake;

(All pictures are made by Freek Slangen, a member of our not-so-secret cabal.)

The next total solar eclipse is July 22, 2009, where the moon's shadow will cross over the north of India, over the Himalaya Mountains into China, then into the Pacific via Shanghai, passing just under Japan and off way into the Pacific (path here). My friends are looking at an organised travel arrangement via the University of Utrecht: for me this might be a bit too long (a three-week trip), as I intend to do WorldCon in Montreal (August 6 to 10), as well, and also World Fantasy in San José, and I only have so much days off.

So I might fly into Shanghai for a week, and join my friends in Wuhan (which looks to be one of the best spots: it'll be a tricky one, as July is the monsoon season in India, and the rainy season in China. This is compounded with the possibility of tyfoons, which generate an enormous amounts of clouds around their central twisters). Then get back home, stay home for over a week -- instead of a day like this year when I went from Novosibirsk, one day at home, then onwards to Denver -- and go to Montreal.

In 2010, there is a total solar eclipse on July 11, which is almost fully over the Pacific Ocean, and ends in Patagonia. It crosses over Easter Island, but all accomodation and trips for that are already fully booked now. So we're looking at French Polynesia or the Cook Islands.


Justin Pickard said...

Jaw-droppingly awesome pictures!

Incidentally, how did this group of eclipse-chasers get together in the first place? Were you friends first, or was it a relatively official community of interest?

Jetse de Vries said...

Long story, here's the short of it:

My friend Peter v/d Linde left one week early from a holiday we had in West Australia to witness the 1999 total solar eclipse which passed over Europe (I thought he was crazy).

Unfortunately, he had the bad luck to wind up in France where it was cloudy. Still he wanted to see an unobscured one, and the 2001 total solar eclipse that went over the South of Africa was on June 21, his birthday. So he asked me to join him there, and I did, figuring I'd do one of such a solar eclipse and be done with it.

However, the solar eclipse in Zambia was phenomenal, and I was hooked. In Zambia, the group consisted of about 40 people, but the five if us met there (although a few already knew each other), and we have been a fairly coherent group since, attending the 2002 one in South Australia, the 2003 one was in Antarctica: that one was inaccessible to us, the 2006 one in Libya (I had planned to go to Turkye, but an accident with my push bike prevented me from going, unfortunately), and the recent one in Russia.

Basically we five stayed together because we get along real well, even in (relative) unluxurious circumstances like tent camps and cramped busses, trains and planes.

Justin Pickard said...

Cool. Sounds wicked. :)