Saturday, July 17

Total eclipse of the sun

Over 400 people travelled to Mangaia in the Southern Cook Islands to view the solar eclipse on Sunday 11 July. Most of them were stationed at the airport and unfortunately the weather was cloudy enough to obscure the three minutes when the moon blocked out the sun’s light but many of the visitors said the island’s beauty and its people more than made up for the failed eclipse.
For more about the eclipse check the Cook Islands News website here.
The predicted path of totality cut a swathe across the South Pacific touching land in only a few places – Mangaia, Easter Island and some of the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia.
I was lucky enough to get a spot on board the Aranui 3, a cargo/passenger vessel that does a regular run to the Marquesas Islands, calling in at a couple of the Tuamotus as well. Just under 200 eclipse-chasers took the two-week trip to the remote and rugged Marquesas. (It was a fantastic journey but more on that in a later post.)
We were due to disembark at 5am on Hikueru, an atoll with a large lagoon and a small population, on Sunday morning but the weather was cloudy – just like Mangaia – so the captain of the Aranui checked the forecast and sailed to a place where there was a gap in the clouds. The advantage of this was that we did not have to get up so early.
The early stages of the eclipse were obscured by clouds at times but just before totality the clouds cleared and the sun came out – and then disappeared again.
Awesome (a much overused description but deserved I this instance)!
The eclipse was really just an excuse to visit the Marquesas and it would have been a great trip anyway but actually seeing just over four minutes of totality was the icing on the cake.
The video shows people getting ready for the greatest show on earth as well as the eclipse itself (edited – not the whole four minutes!)