SeaDream’s Solar Eclipse Voyage Sailed with Clear Skies
SeaDream I was sold out for its recent Trans-Atlantic voyage. Oct. 28 – Nov. 9, 2013 the yacht sailed from Tenerife, Canary Islands to Bridgetown, Barbados. Aboard, was a special interest group put together by RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS. Their interest: astronomy and total solar eclipses. Indeed, people referred to as eclipse chasers or umbraphiles will travel to remote locations to observe or witness predicted central solar eclipses.
The main reason for selecting this voyage, was to view a “total” eclipse of the sun from aboard SeaDream I, in a very specfic location at sea; Latitude N 14Degrees 06.13Minutes, Longitude W 031Degrees 50.39Minutes. Total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location, because totality exists only along a narrow path on Earth’s surface traced by the Moon’s shadow or umbra. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. (In partial and annular eclipses only part of the Sun is obscured.)
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks (“occults”) the Sun. In a solar eclipse, the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes. This can happen only at new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy.
The SeaDream voyage included astronomy-related activities and had three escorts. The astronomical portion of the voyage was conducted by Paul Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society and Dr. Patricia Reiff, Professor of Astronomy at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Their onboard naturalist will be Richard White. Highlights of voyage included:
- observation of the sun during port calls or when seas are reasonably calm
- observation of bright artificial earth satellite flyovers of the ship (a tradition on RING OF FIRE EXPEDITIONS)
- searches to see the ‘Green Flash’ at sunrise and sunset
- observation of the stars of the Southern sky
- observation of the Southern Taurid meteor shower
- observation of other astronomical objects of opportunity in the night sky during the voyage
Since looking directly at the Sun can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness, special eye protection or indirect viewing techniques are used when viewing a solar eclipse. It is technically safe to view only the total phase of a total solar eclipse with the unaided eye and without protection, however this is a dangerous practice as most people are not trained to recognize the phases of an eclipse which can span over two hours while the total phase can only last up to 7.5 minutes for any one location. Photos were taken using special lenses.
The website of the company who organized the Eclipse Voyage aboard SeaDream: http://www.eclipsetours.com/upcoming-tours/2013-tours/13-day-cruise-atlantic-ocean/