Total Solar Eclipse 2006 by Mark Sukhija

[ Trip Overview ] [ Why we did this trip ] [ Egypt ] [ Eclipse day ] [ Libya ]

29 March 2006

We left Tobruk at 08:00 sharp to ensure a timely arrival at the eclipse site at 10:15.

The tarmac road took us 150kms south of Tobruk to the centre line of the Eclipse. We left in high spirits. The mood much in contrast to the mood as we left the cemeteries yesterday. The mood changed quickly as we entered fog. Was this to be a repeat of Ceduna in 2002 - where clouds nearly obscured the eclipse experience? On the coaches, Peter Anderson issued the viewing goggles which he had kindly purchased for us in Australia.

The road south from Tobruk runs through barren desert broken only by slightest of slight undulations. The stony flat dessert would not give way to the curvacous smooth dunes that one associates with the desert.

Having arrived at one of the five sites had been prepared for eclipse viewing as designated by the (seriously) "Commission for Organising the Eclipse," the amateur astronomers of the AAQ began setting up their equipment well away from the crowds. Initially, we decided to take up position amongst the crowds at the tents that had been provided for us. A troop of boy scouts provided entertainment until the partial phases commenced. Five portaloos service the 2,000 to 3,000 people at our site. Many from the MSC Sinfonia (which we had seen docked in Tobruk) were also with us.

The fog burned off by around 10:00am. This pleased us and we would be able to view the eclipse through all the phases. The partial phases of the eclipse would last for 1 hour 18 minutes. Four minutes of totality would commence at 12:37.

As the eclipse hurtled towards us - we began to view a 360 degree sunset/sunrise. During totality, the sunrise/sunset effect would be complete. Sunrise occurred in front of us as totality ended there. Sunset behind us as totality inevitably headed towards Egypt, Turkey, the Caspian, Russia and, finally, Mongolia. The corona of the eclipse was far more visible than the corona at Ceduna.

The contrast between the Eclipses at Ceduna and Jaghboub could not have been more. At Ceduna, we had 32seconds of totality, in Libya, four minutes. In Ceduna, we saw the birds goto sleep on the shorefront. In Libya we had a 360degree sunset over flat desert. In Ceduna it was touch and go if the clouds would part for us. In Libya, the fog burned off hours before totality, giving us clear blue skies for all partial phases and, most importantly, totality.

Two thoroughly exciting eclipses and we have a decision to head to China in 2009.

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About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook