by Paul D. Maley, NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society

Eclipse over Micronesia.  Courtesy X. Jubier.

Circumstances at our site.  Courtesy X. Jubier.

                                         Partial view of the eclipse as it crosses the Federated States of Micronesia. Courtesy TimeandDate.

This expedition was part of an IOTA effort to capture Baily’s Beads at the northern edge of this annular solar eclipse path. Beginning in 1973 I had made a number of attempts to avoid going to the center line of certain total and annular eclipses to try to capture such data either with video or still photos. The following were on this trip: Richard Nugent, Derald and Denise Nye, Glenn and Dot Roark, Paul Maley.

It involved flying into Weno, the main airport of the Federated States of Micronesia, overnighting and then taking a motorboat before dawn to get to Otta (Ocha) Island at the edge of the reef.

                                                                                                Path of the annular eclipse ends at sunrise southwest of Guam.
                                                                                                     Closeup of the reef area with the northern limit line in red.

The object was to make it to the south edge of the reef where we were far enough south of the northern limit of the eclipse so that we would be able to see a prolonged set of Baily’s Beads.

                                                                      Aeronatuical chart showing the location of Otta Island (red arrow). Courtesy Richard Nugent.

The partial eclipse would begin before local sunrise (6.06am) with the main event occurring at maximum eclipse at 7.23am. Therefore we had to traverse open water, dock the boat, unload everyone, and have enough time to get set up for video and photography.

                                                                 Left to right: Dot Roark, Glenn Roark, Denise Nye, Derald Nye, Paul Maley, Richard Nugent.

Since boat travel was slow we left before sunrise while the sky was still dark. The most interesting feature of the boat trip (besides being partly soaked with sea spray) was seeing the biological organisms lighting up the water with blue light. It was a fascinating sight.

                                      Local circumstances with the Sun at low elevation in the east-southeast sky; courtesy X. Jubier.
                                                                  Challenge to dock the boat amid the surf. Two crew had to deal with this. From a video by Richard Nugent.
                                                                              We all made it safely and never had to use life preservers. From a video by Richard Nugent.

Derald and Denise Nye set up their gear on the sand which proved to be stable. Although there was wind we were basically unaffected by this for data collection.

                                                                                           The periphery of Otta Island

Otta proved to be completely vegetation covered with a small area of beach around the island with a dock and small pier at one location. It was there that we were able to tie down the boat, though it was moving quite a bit in the surf and that impacted unloading and loading.

                                                                                               Paul Maley transferring his equipment. From a video by Richard Nugent.

As the leader of the group I had to insure not only the safety of everyone but to try to maximize the chance of success. In the above photo there are some clouds in the background but generally we were able to capture much of the eclipse including the critical maximum.

                                                                            As the Moon touches the edge of the Sun in the above image clouds pass by. Derald Nye photo.
                                                                                                                                      Clouds clear. Derald Nye photo.
                                                                                                               Baily’s Beads become clearly visible. Derald Nye photo.
                                                                                                                             The Beads end. Derald Nye photo.

Using a Celestron 5 and ISO400 film at 1/500 sec my images were not as clear.

                                                                                                Paul Maley photo.
                                                                         Edge of vegetation line and a slope to the water around the entire island. From a video by Richard Nugent.

In the end this was a highly successful solar eclipse expedition to a very remote location with no other observers or tourists to be seen.