2005 ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE IN PANAMA RESULTS 2022-07-21T17:34:33-05:00


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

Eclipse path over Panama. Courtesy X. Jubier.

Circumstances at our site. Courtesy X. Jubier.

Mola image courtesy Debbie Moran

A RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS tradition is to fly the Texas flag. Here it waves at the Penomone airport located 0.51km north of the center line. Lynn Palmer photo.
Springtime in Central America signaled another annular solar eclipse expedition, one of the least expensive to reach from Texas. I had selected Panama as the closest land site where we might be able to get into position and intercept the very narrow track of the nearly total eclipse. Unfortunately, an early approach of the rainy season due to El Nino threatened to derail this rare so-called ” hybrid ” solar eclipse in Panama. A hybrid is essentially an eclipse that is total in the central portion of the eclipse path and annular along the rest of the track in both the sunrise and sunset directions. The last time one of these was seen was one saros ago; that is 18 years and 11 days ago in March 1987 when we traveled to Gabon to see what amounted to a one-second total eclipse.

This time calculations revealed that setting up at the tail end of the eclipse path where it crossed land in Panama would result in true annularity lasting from 2.5 to 3.7 seconds, depending upon which site we chose. Such a selection was made all the more difficult by the fact that in the preceding days, it was either rainy, cloudy or a combination of both in our chosen site areas of Coronado airport and Penonome airport in the province of Cocle.

The RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS base was situated at Panama’s only real resort, the Royal Decameron Hotel at Farallon on Panama’s Pacific coast. Our team had 70 persons in it, group 1 headed by myself and group 2 led by Astronaut Claude Nicollier. About an hour to central eclipse, building thunderheads threatened to engulf the sun and I elected to split the group. Claude took his team north of the Penonome airfield. We want to specifically acknowledge the contribution by meteorologist Steve Sokol of the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at NASA Johnson Space Center who kept me apprised of constantly changing developments on eclipse day. It was based on his recommendations that we were able to get ahead of bad weather.

For the Penonome team, the following information is provided:

latitude 8 deg 29.974m North, longitude 80 deg 21.653m West

1. Baily’s Beads start = 5:11:25pm (22.11.25UT)

2. Start of true annularity = 5:11:54.1pm

3. End of true annularity = 5:12:01.3pm

4. End of Baily’s Beads = 5:12:15.7pm

For Claude’s team, the following applies: latitude 8 deg 32.718m North, longitude 80 deg 20.422m West

1. Baily’s Beads start = 5:11:22pm

2. maximum eclipse between 5:11:58 and 5:12:02 but true annularity not achieved!

3. End Bailys’ Beads = 5:12:20pm

The times on the photos below may not be precisely accurate but were those given to me by the individual contributors; however, the above modeled times should be very good and reflect accurately the Watt’s limb corrections for the lunar edge. Based on the GPS location of our site, we should have had 7.2 seconds of annularity from the end of the runway at Penonome.

One objective was to determine the temperature drop during the nearly total eclipse. Blanca Mercedes Forshee of San Antonio, Texas recorded temps using a digital thermometer at 5 minute intervals. Results are as follows:

Other objectives included attempting to capture prominences and corona, but it appears the cloud took care of the latter although I have evidence of a small prominence image below. Some sky darkening behind us to the east was also very evident.

Our first ” Eclipse 5k-RUN FOR THE SUN ” run was won by Richard Nugent and photos are shown also below. The hotel provided a great RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS farewell cake which was shared on Saturday night at Cafe Med. Also, those of you lucky enough to have seen the -7 magnitude Iridum flare just before we departed Panama on Sunday got a great glimpse of things in the sky that can be seen anywhere in the world.

Now for a compendium of eclipse results from our intrepid team of observers. These images are posted for the benefit of our tour members only. These are not for reproduction unless you have express permission from the photographer. Many thanks to the following individuals for contributing their efforts to the group. Any photo appearing under a tourmember’s biline was taken by him/her. Where eclipse photos are concerned you can see some of the strengths and weakenesses of the results. These are reflected in the precision of the focus, the scale of the solar image, and the exposure time used. It may give you ideas for future eclipse photography. To the credit of each photographer we had to contend with variable thickness cloud as seen from the two main sites where our groups were situated.


“Meade ETX 90 on EQ3 tripod, using Scopetronix 40mm eyepiece and Digi-T adapter to a Nikon Coolpix 4500 camera, with a Baader density D=3.8 solar filter. The photos were taken under windy conditions and through clouds, so the definition is not always as good as one would have liked. Nevertheless, the pictures came out better than expected. Even with the lower density solar filter, I still had to use exposure times of about 1/15 sec during mid eclipse, due to the cloud effect.

I was lucky to get a picture so close to the middle of the eclipse, since my photo taking frequency was about 1 every 10 to 15 seconds at that point. It caught me slightly off-guard, since a few seconds before the middle of the eclipse it still looked like as if we had more time. When I realized that we were in the annular phase, I took one picture, but being too eager to take more, I clicked the shutter release with too short pauses in between, causing my camera to wait patiently for the last click – it starts processing the latest command even if previous commands has not been fully processed.

The times are within at least one second accuracy – I synchronised my camera with my “atomic-time” watch beforehand, and checked it before and after the eclipse by taking pictures of my watch.”

5:07:04pm. All times in this summary are in local Panama time on April 8, 2005. In GMT this is 22:07:04,









Miriam and David Findley stand on the surface adjacent to the Penonome airport runway. The background is typical of what we encountered. Nice hard ground, no standing water and flat surface. The majority of tour members used portable low complexity gear ranging from a simple pair of binoculars for direct viewing of the eclipse (with solar filter) to a Meade ETX90 telescope for photography. Bulky telescopes were completely absent from the field.

David and Miriam Findley


Cornelis Du Toit


Denise and Derald Nye


Anil Sain, Beverly Nesmith, David Findley, Miriam Findley


Camera SLR Nikon N65, Kodak Gold ISO 100 film, 400mm lens with a 2X Teleconvertor giving a total of 800mm focal length. Pictures taken at f6.7 bracketed between 1/20 to 1/4 seconds. Due to cloudy weather, my 3+ Thousand Oaks filter was just too much, so I switched to one layer of thin Mylar as a filter. The first picture was taken some seconds before annularity, the second at annularity.




Taken just after start of annularity. ESO=100, S=1/4000, C-90 with Canon Rebel digial camera.

EOS=100, S=1/4000, Double enhancement to bring out detail.


BOB HAMMARBERG (Claude’s group)

Bob Hammarberg and Dee Holisky enjoy their very first eclipse


David Callendar and others


Canon 20D with the Canon 28-135 zoom lens set at the 135mm focal length. Bill was using the bus as a windbreak so as to minimize shaking effects. Camera is a Canon 20D 8.2mp digital with image stabilization feature. Images were cleaned up and enlarged with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. F36 and an ISO of 800 for all digital exposures.

#2550b 1/4000 5:11:48pm



#2551b 1/8000 5:11:49pm


#2552b 1/2000 5:11:50pm


#2553b 1/4000 5:11:59pm


#2554b 1/8000 5:12:00pm


#2555b 1/2000 5:12:02pm


Bill’s equipment and ‘air bear’


The farewell cake showing the Ring of Fire Expeditions logo


Claude’s presentation to Natalie Benuzzi, of the Royal Decameron, who took care of many of our issues


Viewing the southern sky on the beach. Note Southern Cross in left side of image.


Paul’s Baily’s Beads simulation video




The group at Penonome at the end of the runway

On the ground, left to right: Lynn Palmer, Charl Du Toit,Ken Lester, Paul Maley, Debbie Moran, Blanca Forshee, Owen Leibman, Denise Nye,Anne Bullen.

Standing, left to right, Sherry Mueller,Ted Mueller, Elizabeth Du Toit, Cornelus Du Toit, Charlie McLeod, Jim Neal, Barbara Neal, Lisa Lester, driver, Lois Bader, Charles Bader,Hernan Contreras, Terry Kemper, Evelina Contreras, Ernie Piini, Ruben Ruiz, Lourdes Avila, Rick Frankenberger, Janice Frankenberger, Mary McGauley, Chuck Herold, Dick Mischke, Paul Stewart, Derald Nye.


Hana Druckmullerova


John Erickson

JOHN ERICKSON (Claude’s site)

The group with Claude

Front row, left to right: Hana Druckmullerova, Chris Piini, Maureen Cooper, Terry Cooper, Richard Nugent, Maryann Ott.

Standing, left to right: John Erickson, Howard Bruensteiner, Claude Nicollier, Doug Walker, Susan Nicollier, Bill Reyna,Irene Talbott, Paul Braithwaite, Nancy Braithwaite, Joshua Duncan, David Callendar, David Dix, Dee Holisky,Bob Hammarberg, Miriam Findley, Ed Deland, Jerry Palmer,Dimi Karras, ___, Linda Laing, Janet Deland, Larry McDavid, Cathy Gretencord, Bob Geary, Chris Triessl


A Palmer reunion: Jerry Palmer and Lynn Palmer



Birdwatch group


MARY MCGAULEY (Penonome airpot)

To link to photos from Mary’s home page, click here: Mary’s Panama Page


Luis leading the birdwatching tour

RICHARD NUGENT (Claude’s site)


IRENE TALBOTT (Penonome airport)


No way I’ll miss the eclipse, I have my hotel alarm clock set!
TED MUELLER (Penonome airport)

The following were taken with: Meade ETX-90, 1250 mm fl @ prime focus, Focus mask approx. F64, 1/500 sec on Kodak Color Max, ASA 400 film






See their Panama images at: Chris/Bob’s Panama Page

See their eclipse images at: Chris/Bob’s Eclipse Page


An account of eclipse results in Panama was found in newspapers 2 days later


Hernan Contreras, John Erickson, David Dix


Ernie and Chris Piini


Maryann Ott


Rick Frankenberger Shadow Band setup


Debbie Moran


Aulio Hernandez and Hernan Contreras


Claude Nicollier

Wind vibration caused still images to be more or less unusable during central eclipse. So I extracted images from my Sony camcorder WITHOUT a solar filter. All captions from here on appear directly ABOVE the respective photo. Video images are quite resolute and show tiny Baily’s Beads. Lack of a filter to protect the lens proved to be no problem. Using the flip out screen to focus was not hazardous to the eye because the sun was never directly viewed. The camera received no apparent damage from solar exposure.

Beads just before annularity

The chromosphere is visible on the bottom edge

Central eclipse

Note the thin chromosphere arc captured in the image below!

Yes, that reddish thing to left of center is a prominence. Brightness and contrast were stretched in order to accentuate the clarity of the Baily’s Beads.

Some of the last Baily’s Beads follwing 3rd contact.

Although the eclipse was technically not total, the sky behind us clearly was darkened in this view looking in the anti-sun direction. Mary McGauley in foreground.

At central eclipse this is what the sky looked like. The sun was viewed through a thin veil of cirrus. The thickest part had just moved by 6 minutes before.

Derald Nye in foreground centering the sun.

View of the ROFE team before clouds began to threaten.

Some of the more portable members leave the field in order to outrun the clouds.

Panamanian amateur astronomers after the eclipse.

Blanca Mercedes Forshee recording temperature at 5 minute intervals while I assembled my Meade 2045D.

Entrants in the first RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS E5K RUN FOR THE SUN. From left, Richard Nugent, Paul Maley, Lynn Palmer, Ray Brooks, Dori Brooks, Hana Druckmullerova. Photo by Chuck Herold.

Charlie McLeod; note buses in background used by some as a windshield

Hana Druckmullerova illustrating solar eclipse image processing from past eclipses.

How bad could it have been? At 5:30pm, some 18 minutes after central eclipse note the massive cirrus area around the sun

Why digital cameras are so great

Views of the beach from beachfront rooms

Lynn Palmer using Coronado BINOMITE binoculars to watch the annular eclipse.

Paul and Claude with the RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS cake in the Cafe Med restaurant at the farewell dinner.There was plenty of reason to be happy!