2013 ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE IN TARAWA RESULTS 2022-07-21T17:26:25-05:00


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

The 41st RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS annular solar eclipse venture successfully viewed and photographed the annular eclipse of the Sun on May 10, 2013 from the atoll of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati.

Eclipse path over the Tarawa area. Courtesy X. Jubier.

Eclipse circumstances at the Parliament building. Courtesy X. Jubier.


Sunset from FEMA Lodge, Tarawa, Kiribati. G. Webb photo.


At central eclipse time Lynn Palmer photographed the eclipse projected onto a shirt as the Sun’s image was projected through a hole in a thatched room at the Kiribati parliament complex.  However, it is important to mention that on eclipse morning we experienced two downpours at our hotel, FEMA Lodge which did not portend well for the coming morning.


Eclipse morning dawned with many clouds over the hotel.



 Above you can see a combination of a tree leaf shape which can produce certain crescents. Depending on the leaf shapes and distances as well as wind speeds the crescents can be clear or ambiguous at best . P.Maley photo.


Crescents through leaves at FEMA Lodge site. B. Braswell photo.


Crescents during central annularity. C. Pinales photo.

Not to be deterred by morning cloud, myself and Lynn headed 3 km east and set up at the Kiribati Parliament building, the only private area we could find.  The rest of our 10 member team set up at FEMA Lodge during the very lengthy 4 hour long eclipse interval. It should be noted that when we arrived in Tarawa and asked the purpose of our visit, we stated ‘for the solar eclipse’. Nobody knew about the eclipse which was to occur the following day!


 Jan Hellemans as photographed by B. Braswell


Dee Holisky as photographed by B. Braswell. Notice the hood which is the best way to keep out ambient light while focusing a camera during partial phases.


Greg Webb with his photographic gear during the eclipse. Photo by Jones Anak Sue Eng


Staff member at FEMA Lodge watching the partial phases. Jones Anak Sue Eng photo.


Dee Holisky, Byron Braswell and unidentified local observing the partial eclipse. Jones Anak Sue Eng photo.


ROFE eclipse team after the eclipse a the FEMA Lodge. Left to right: Lynn Palmer, Byron Braswell, Jones Anak Sue Eng, Greg Webb, Colleen Pinales,  Jan Hellemans, Terry Fulbright, Dee Holisky, Joe Mueller, and Paul Maley. Photo by Dee Holisky. 

Clouds persisted in front of the Sun until shortly after 1st contact.


The sky was covered until shortly before 2nd contact. When things look this bad, you generally have lots of time to snap such images.  P.Maley photo.

I took this shot with a Nikon D3100, at ASA 400, 1/4000 through a Takahashi FC-60 with a focal length of 380mm.  Initially the f/5.9 focal ratio showed very bright images, so I resorted to a technique to reduce the aperture by placing a card in front of the solar filter at 50%, 75% and 90% blockages.  During the annular phase  we did hear roosters crowing.


  Blocking mask created from a tour brochure and operated by Lynn Palmer.  This proved most useful prior to the start of annularity. The mask actually blocked too much light even at 50% at that time.


First image taken just after 1st contact with a 50% blocking mask. Nikon D3100, ISO400, 1/4000, f/5.9. P.Maley photo.

On the north side of Tarawa at Mike’s boat building shop, the clever owner set up a viewing platform for his employees using welder’s glass.


Our group looking at the viewing platform with 3 different locations where observers coud look at the Sun safely. L. Palmer photo.



A one power view of the Sun the day after the eclipse through welder’s glass. L.Palmer photo.



 Lynn lets members of a tsunami workshop being conducted at the parliament view through welder’s glass.  P. Maley photo.


Setup at any eclipse is important. For Tarawa, the floor was hot concrete and a stable lawn sprinkler tripod served as the base. My Takahashi FC-60 with Nikon D3100 attached (f/5.9) generated a relatively wide field, mainly beneficial for total eclipses.  A right angle viewer borrowed for the occasion was vital in being able not only to avoid looking straight up (73 degree elevation at central eclipse time) but permitted relatively easy focusing with both a 1x and 2x diopter.  The mount was an Orion EQ-1 with slow motion knobs in RA and Dec used to conduct manual tracking.


At first I used a towel as a buffer between me and the concrete but later a small box served the purpose much better. Notice the Fiji bottled water used as a counterweight.  A visor worked to shield theSun partly and when turned backward it was simpler to focus.


 Map showing predicted contact times. Courtesy X. Jubier.

 Byron Braswell determined from his GPS-based camera and resulting images that 2nd contact occurred at 12.1150 and third contact at 12.17.45 yielding 5m55s of annularity compared to 5m59s predicted.  Coordinates of the observing site at FEMA Lodge were 1 deg 20m 25.6 s North, 173 deg 01m 32.0 s East.




After 1st contact, 10:18:04am local time (GMT+12). All eclipse pictures taken at ISO 100 at 400mm focal length.  Equipment: Nikon D7000 DSLR, Nikon 80-400 f4.5-f5.6 lens, Kendrick/Baader photographic level solar filter. 1/6400 at f/10.  B.Braswell photo.


B. Braswell’s camera setup. B. Braswell photo. Notice the great quality of the eclipse images!




2nd contact (12:11:50pm local time), 1/2500 at f5.6. B.Braswell photo. 



 3rd contact (12:17:43pm local), 1/3200 at f/5.6. B.Braswell photo.


 Annularity (12:14:26pm local), 1/2500 at f/5.6. B. Braswell photo at FEMA Lodge site.


Canon 5D Mark III, ISO 320, 1/6400, f/4 using a 70-200mm zoom and a 1.4 extender.  EFL 245mm. Jan Hellemans photo.


1/4000 sec at f/5.9, 30mm aperture. P. Maley photo at Kiribati Parliament site.


 Shortly after 2nd contact. EFL 280mm. Same specs as above.  Jan Hellemans photo.


Photo sequence by Greg Webb.  Canon 500mm f8 lens, Canon Rebel XSI, ISO 400, Orion Glass Full aperture Filter. After first contact. 1/640 sec.


Before second contact. 1/500 sec. G.Webb photo.


Annularity. 1/320 sec. G. Webb photo.


After 3rd contact. 1/500 sec. G. Webb photo.


Paul and Patrick Poitevin from the UK looking at Patrick’s eclipse images taken from a bed and breakfast location on North Tarawa.  Jan Hellemans photo.


After the eclipse the team was feeling as happy as this Tarawa – grown clam!  B. Braswell photo.


Guadalcanal is the location of one of the more famous World War II battles where the US military reportedly handed the Japanese their first defeat in more than 1,000 years.


Mamamtus clouds over a Japanese war relic located in front of Honiara airport.  P.Maley photo.


A flaming Honiara sunset scene. P. Maley photo.


Map of areas in the Solomons were some famous battles took place. These include Savo Island where the US suffered a significant defeat at the hands of the Japanese navy.  Significant battle areas included Tulagi, Lunga Point, Tenaru, Mount Austen (see the TV movie “The Pacific”), Matanikau River, bloody Ridge, Galloping Horse, Gavutu and others. 


Bunker on Tarawa. P. Maley photo.


Live shells in the bottom of the bunker located behind a police station.


Hand grenade and other corroded ammunition in the same bunker. P. Maley photo.


71 years after the battle of Tarawa, while walking on the beach during our trip, Colleen Pinales came across  two genuine WW II finds–a canteen and a bullet.  P. Maley photo.


 A US Army tank partially exposed on Tarawa. P.Maley photo. amtrac

Remains of an AMTRAC exposed on the beach in Tarawa. P.Maley photo.


Honiara: Remains of a bomb sit on top of a crashed airplane wing. P.Maley photo.


Various grenade types found near Henderson Field, Honiara on display at the bomb disposal area adjacent to the airport. P.Maley photo.


One of many flowers growing adjacent to a WW II bunker at Honiara International Airport. P.Maley photo. 


 Honiara hospital. B. Braswell photo.gun1

One of a number of gun emplacements still on Tarawa. P.Maley photo.


 Alligator Creek today. P.Maley photo.

The Battle of the Tenaru, sometimes called the Battle of the Ilu River or the Battle of Alligator Creek, was a land battle between the Imperial Japanese Army and Allied ground forces (mainly of the US Marine Corps) that took place on August 21, 1942 on the island of Guadalcanal during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The battle was the first major Japanese land offensive during the Guadalcanal campaign.

In the battle, U.S. Marines, under the overall command of U.S. Major Gen. Alexander Vandegrift , repulsed an assault by the “First Element” of the “Ichiki” Regiment, under the command of Japanese Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki. The Marines were defending the Lunga perimeter, which guarded Henderson Field, which was captured by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on August 7. Ichiki’s unit was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off the island.

Underestimating the strength of Allied forces on Guadalcanal, which at that time numbered about 11,000 personnel, Ichiki’s unit conducted a nighttime frontal assault on Marine positions at Alligator Creek on the east side of the Lunga perimeter. Ichiki’s assault was defeated with heavy losses for the Imperial attackers. The Marine units counterattacked Ichiki’s surviving troops after daybreak, killing many more of them. All but 128 of the original 917 of the Ichiki Regiment’s First Element were killed in the battle.


 A spectacular sunset with mammatus and rays. P.Maley photo.


Some of the team being ferried from North Tarawa at high tide back to our vehicle. B. Braswell photo.

 Pinales_Sri Siva Subramanya Swamy Temple in Nadi

Sri Siva Subramanya Swamy Temple in Nadi Pinales_Kiribati Kids at Low Tide1

Children at low tide in Kiribati. C. Pinales photo.


 Solomon Islands woman carving coconuts. G. Webb photo.