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


Even through thin cloud in Ternate City you could get this impressive Diamond Ring photo also featuring Baily’s Beads, chromosphere and the large prominence. Image by Leslie Strike.

Welcome poster centered around the solar eclipse. Sheila Stephenson photo.

The following are summaries of the experiences of our groups.




Group 1A at Gunung Kawi Temple. Left to right Don Gardner, Kent Gundersen, Bob Rea, Lourdes Romero, Ruben Ruiz, Michelle Bales, Larry Stevens, Chris Chan, Erna Chan, Jacques Guertin.

The eclipse at the hotel.


Pat and Claude brief attendees prior to the eclipse.  J. Hangarter photo.


Don Gardner positioned on the roof of the hotel. S. Hilding photo.


Jeff Pohlman and local onlookers.  L. Pohlman photo.

The best views of totality are always had by those who have no equipment and are properly prepared to protect themselves from excessive solar rays (Linda Pohlman). D. Moran photo.


Bob Hammarberg and Dee Holisky before totality.  J. Pohlman photo.

This is a “naked eye” view of totality through cloud.  PJ Perera photo. 


The tongue-like “major prominence” as captured from the hotel roof. J. Pohlman photo. 

The major prominence as captured by Don Gardner (hotel) and LeRoy Maxfield (Silver Discoverer) 72 minutes later. Composite by B. Hulse.

The eclipse at the Sultan’s Palace recounted by Ruben Ruiz:

“During the day prior to the eclipse day, we discussed alternatives on different sites to see the eclipse. One option was the roof top of the hotel. Another option was the Sultan’s Palace, and I decided to go there.

Lourdes and I arrived to the Sultan’s Palace one hour prior to first contact. The place was very nice and there were very few people inside. There was some kind of access control [prearranged by Ring of Fire Expeditions] since the place was not flooded with people. I did my setup (2 tripods holding 3 cameras and a telescope) and during all the time prior to first contact we had nice blue skies. There were clouds blowing in the wrong direction, and we knew we would have cloudiness during the eclipse.


A hint of Baily’s Beads at 2nd contact. R.Ruiz photo.

After first contact, I realized there were more people wandering around. I allowed some of the locals to look at the partial phases of the eclipse from my camera which was mounted in the tripod, being very careful not to allow them to touch anything. There were two main words in Indonesian that I learned and used: “Hati-Hati” and “Awas”. They both mean “be careful!”



A series of composite images taken during the 3 hour process. R. Ruiz photo.

We got more clouds, and we were unable to see the eclipse reflected on the ground through pinholes due to the cloudiness.  During totality we got more clouds, and I was unable to picture the diamond ring effects. At second contact and third contact someone in the Sultan’s Palace rang a bell, which was quite nice. I have this recorded on video.


Totality at the Sultan’s Palace. R. Ruiz photo.

After third contact, all of a sudden it seems like the gates to the Sultan’s Palace were opened. We were flooded with people. I was still taking pictures, so it was a challenging moment to keep my tripods secure while having so many people around. Many locals asked Lourdes and I for pictures. I guess we were photographed more than 300 times. I was also interviewed by a local girl who needed a video recording for her school.  Around 15 minutes before 4th contact most of the people went out of the palace, and the place was empty again.  Overall, it was a great experience and I liked to be surrounded by people, although I was at times concerned by my equipment, but nothing bad happened.”


A typical eclipse setup with onlookers. 

Jacques Guertin reports:

“March 9. Eclipse day! 06h30, two hours before First Contact. Don and Jacques are the first to setup on the hotel roof. Fast moving, broken clouds suggest that we may need luck. By 07h30, many more have joined us.

09h49m. Less than 3 minutes before totality. No more partial shots. The clouds have gotten thicker. I’m guessing that I will need at least 2 stops more exposure to compensate.

09h51m. 40 s before totality. Although the clouds are rather thick; a few seconds later, I’m able to see a brief diamond ring, albeit not with its usual brilliancy.

09h51m40s. Totality! Second Contact (C2). With the clouds scattering the corona’s light, the surroundings are not very dark. I can easily see the camera settings without my flashlight. After taking a few shots of the corona, I stop photographing and take about 30 s to view the eclipsed sun through the telescope. It is disappointing to see only the inner-middle corona but the clouds do not prevent my seeing a large, “fork/V”, pink prominence. Outstanding! Then, it’s time to get ready for Third Contact, which, as all eclipse chasers know, arrives much too quickly.

09h54m21s. End of Totality. Third Contact (C3). Clouds scatter the light from the photosphere that would have normally produced a “diamond ring”. However, I do manage to get the chromosphere and Baily’s beads. The loud cheering around me suggests that we have a happy roof group and that in spite of the clouds, this has been a successful eclipse. Don records a maximum temperature decrease of 9 °F (5 °C).”

Baily’s Beads at 3rd contact. J. Guertin photo.

Guertin_ Chromosphere1

Chromosphere. J. Guertin photo. 

jpohl_Ternate Temp Plot

The recorded change in temperature.  J. Pohlman data and photo.


Mt. Batur.  S. Young photo.


Mt. Gamalama overlooking Ternate.  S. Young photo.


From Pat Reiff: “The weather was a bit worrisome so the combined teams broke into three observing groups: One on the roof of the hotel, one on a boat to a nearby island, and I led the group to the Sultan’s palace. A movie of totality has been posted to Trigger MMS’s facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Trigger.MMS/videos

All had a good view of totality, although at the Sultan’s palace second contact was a bit covered by thin clouds. Afterwards the locals treated us like royalty, wanting our photos!! ”


A fish-eye view of the sky during totality. P. Reiff photo. 


A composite of Baily’s Beads at 2nd and 3rd contacts, the major prominence and chromosphere.  M. Paulson photo. 


In spite of cloud, Peter Vasey got this shot of the inner corona and the major prominence.  P. Vasey photo.

Musical performance at the Sultan’s Palace preceding the eclipse.  PJ Perera photo.


Front row, From left: Steve Bedingfield, PJ Perera, Lynn Bedingfield, Peter Vasey, Ranji Perera, Murray and Joanne Paulson, Janet Couch, and Keith Yearman with tripod.
Second row: Don Hartry, Sue Graff, Carolyn Vasey, Shannon Hilding, Jean Hangarter, Krista Stefan, Umbe Cantú, Joan Hube, Cathy Gretencord, Doug Hube, Yleana Martinez, Pat Reiff.

Krakatoa volcano on approach. J. Paulson photo.


Claude Nicollier reports: “As planned, the group met at the hotel Sheraton Bandara close to Jakarta Airport March 1st, 2016 at the end of the day. We met also with Ervan Maulana who was going to be our guide from Cruisingindonesia for the rest of the trip. General briefing at the hotel for all Group 2 participants, except for Terry Kemper and Betsy Vobach who came later.  We decided to have a general briefing every day at 7 PM, pre-dinner, to see what problems/issues have to be resolved, and talk about next day’s program. This worked well.

Next Day March 2nd departure to Yogyakarta, city tour in the afternoon, excellent hotel Eastparc.

March 3rd Royal palace, Taman Sari, and Borobudur.  Cloudy day. We noticed that Terry Kemper was the most sought after member of our group by the locals. Lots of locals group pictures with Terry in the middle!

Terry Kemper was the most popular with locals. C. Nicollier photo.

A subset of the group close to the Merapi volcano. Top of the volcano behind the group, in clouds. C. Nicollier photo.

March 4th excursion to Merapi volcano, and PM visit to Hindu Prambanan temple. Cloudy again, but weather observed in Ternate essentially clear (Skippysky and Accuweather), which gave us hope and helped maintain a good mood! I gave a short PowerPoint presentation on Shuttle flights and Hubble in the evening for the Group.

The whole Group 2 at Prambanan Temple. C. Nicollier photo.

March 5th, essentially a travel day to Manado and the Cocotinos Boutique Resort. Fair skies in Manado. Nice place!  I organized a star gazing session in the evening. Southern Cross well visible. Large Magellanic Cloud not visible because of light diffusion in the direction of Manado city (LMC also not too high, about 20 degrees elevation, and getting lower in the evening).

March 6th, relax in the hotel, and snorkeling/diving day. Went very well with fine weather. More star gazing in the evening.  Still no LMC visible, but everybody saw the Southern Cross!

March 7th, an ambitious bus trip for the day. First to Mt. Lokon volcano. No walking or climbing around the volcano which disappointed a few people, but there was a lot to do on that day! Unplanned but interesting stop at a location of display Indonesian houses for export and sale anywhere in the world… Continuing on small roads towards Tondano Lake.  Stopped at a local market. Vegetable/fruit and fish sections were fine. The courageous ones who went to the animals and meat section were shocked.  I was no longer the only vegetarian in the Group after this visit!  Lunch at the shore of Tondano Lake. Excellent! Then another rather long bus ride to theTangkoko Dua Saudara National Park. Saw monkeys, medium size and very small… Back in the hotel around 8:30 PM. It was a nice but long day!

March 8th, travel to Ternate.  Grand Majang hotel was rustic but perfectly adequate. Cloudy and some rain showers at arrival. Forecast decent for next day, but certainly not totally cloud free!  We met with Jacques Guertin and group 1A, Pat Reiff and Group 1B. Eclipse briefing in the evening by Pat, Jacques, Don Gardner and myself. Weather forecast, precautions, photography and exposure times, general behavior were presented. I covered the subject of options, which were the hotel roof, the Sultan’s  Palace yard,  Buku Bandera (new option, small clear area in the forest, west of town towards volcano), and the boat(s). People signed up for their preliminary choice, to be updated the next morning if needed.

March 9th, eclipse day!  Weather not too bad in early morning, but more than half covered with mainly thin cirrus, but also altocumulus some places. Altocumulus would be a definite obstacle for proper eclipse viewing. It looked definitely better to the south, towards Tidore and Makian Islands.

Group leaders were going to be available on the roof (Jacques), and at the Sultan’s Palace (Pat). Nobody chose the new location Buku Bandera, giving us no advantage vs. hotel roof or Sultan’s Palace. Most people in our Group chose Sultan’s Palace, some made the choice of the hotel roof. Around 7:00 AM, I started to seriously consider a boat ride to the south, still looking better from a cloud cover point of view. An enthusiastic dynamics rapidly developed among eight of us, who became the “Boat People”: Terry, Betsy, Maryann, Bob and Chris, David and Denise, and myself. We notified Eugenio, the Cruisingindonesia representative, who was quick in providing us with transportation to the harbor. We left with the power boat around 7:20. It was more than 2.5 hours before totality. Erwan Maulana joined us on the boat. None of us within the “Boat People” was going to do fancy photography with very special equipment.  We were there for the view and the emotions and for clear skies, with some photography, but no long focal length. Our decision was not at all motivated by the somewhat longer totality going south. It was entirely motivated by the perceived higher likelihood of clear skies, and by the advantage of mobility and flexibility.

At about 7:50 AM, we stopped at a small harbor on the south-west coast of Tidore to evaluate the situation with the cloud cover evolution. After watching the clouds for about ten minutes, we decided to go further south, seeking better conditions. It looked like the Mare Island, just south of Tidore, was going to be adequate. The boat landed on a small beach just about .5 miles south of a small village on the east coast of Mare. See two I-phone screen copies below showing where we landed on Mare, and a post-event enlargement of Google Map showing exactly where we landed, with the small village on top.




“Boat People” eclipse observation point at Mare Island, March 9, 2016

We were not alone at this location on Mare Island. There were a few locals, and some Spanish people with advanced photographic equipment. There was a small building close to the beach providing shadow. We observed C1 and early partial phases in good conditions. We had a high clouds threat about 10 minutes before C2, but the clouds moved out before C2.

Cloud situation about 10 minutes before C2. The clouds were moving rather fast left to right and totality was entirely in the clear part of the sky on the left.  C. Nicollier photo.

I gave a count down to totality and used the whistle. I had previously explained the meaning of the whistle to the locals. C2 was at about 09:51:15 and C3 at about 09:54:20. It was a beautiful, spectacular eclipse! Photos below.

On the beach at Mare Island. B. Vobach photo.

Eclipse observation location in Mare Island, shortly after C1.  C. Nicollier photo. 


Same location during totality. C. Nicollier photo.


Panorama picture taken during totality from the beach. M. Ott photo.


Totality.  CANON EOS 550D, f=250 mm, F/D 5.6, 1 sec exposure.  C. Nicollier photo.

Totality.  CANON EOS 550D, f=250 mm, F/D 5.6, 1/30 sec exposure.  C. Nicollier photo.

The “Boat People” (left to right) David English, Maryann Ott, Ervan Maulana. Betsy Vobach, Bob Geary, Chris Triessl, Terry Kemper.  C. Nicollier photo.

The “Boat People” on the beach at Mare Island looking north. In the background, you see the volcano on Tidore Island, and the clouds we had been trying to escape by going south. This Kiematabu peak is 5676 feet high and has not erupted in modern times. E. Maulana photo.

We had a problem for the trip back. Not a severe problem but annoying. Our boat had left our landing location on the beach some time before totality, because of a receding tide. Not coming back. We had to walk to the village north of us where the boat had moved. Terrain was difficult. It took a while and was a pain for several of us.

After returning to Ternate, we learned that everybody had observed the eclipse, but through thin clouds in Ternate. It appears like the “Boat People” had the best view of all.  I continue to believe that the option of flexibility and mobility is the best for eclipse viewing. Lesson learned from Cairns 2012, and here again!

Following the eclipse we took a flight in the afternoon to Makassar. Good hotel in Makassar. We had a last meal with the whole Group 2. I expressed my gratitude to everyone in the group, and to our local guide Erwan Maulana for an excellent job! I gave him a tip collected from everyone in the Group.”


Macaque on Bali.  L. Strike photo. 


Coral at Gangga island.  L. Strike photo.