Total eclipse in Niger

The day without a cloud hath passed,
and thou wert lovely to the last.

Lord Byron

In 2006, a total eclipse crossed Africa, from Nigeria to Egypt, then the Mediterranean sea, Turkey, and ended in central Asia. Among all the opportunities, I had first selected a short trip to Egypt ; but الله و اکبر, that trip was cancelled, and I could opt, at short notice, with Astronomical tours, for an old dream : the Sahara.

On March 26th at sunrise (only astronomy can get me out of bed at such a time!), I joined a multinational group of seven other eclipse chasers. Some of them were in the historic 2003 expedition to Antarctica ; we were even honoured to have a "white continent organiser" among us.

After three days of desert, marked by some punctures, cars stuck, breakdown and, best of all, a full day of sand-wind (Cf. the page about the trip for more details... in French),

we finally made it to the eclipse observation camp,

Made with Sciatrope

where we joined a hundred other eclipse chasers, mainly from US. You can visit the web page of some of them :

Among our group of eight, here are photographs of Claribel and John Fisanotti, from California and Deepak and Sandhia Bhimani (in the tent taking notes), from India.

After numerous conversations at night, I went to bed under the stars, my heart filled with expectations of another day without a cloud. When I woke up around 2 am, I glanced at the sky before falling back asleep as every nights, except that... unlike other nights, there was no star left in the sky!
I did found it difficult to sleep again... and in the misty morning , the "good morning" were less smiling than they used to be.
At last, the desert magic was stronger than some evil curses coming from south Brittany ; and the sky became entirely blue before totality, حمد لله. It was a lovely eclipse, on which I could test my brand new equipment.

I found the corona quite active for a solar minimum period.

Here is the author of these pictures, happy about his eclipse, and who does not fear to be ridiculous.

After that, we went on a wonderful trip in northern Niger. The day after the eclipse, I saw the youngest moon (32h) of my amateur astronomer years. And the next day, we were able to observe a superb earthshine-set : the crescent was flattened by refraction and still very sharp, the horns did produce a green then blue flash, before leaving the earthshine visible to the horizon. Sorry, I did not made any photograph, you had to be there to witness that show.

I think I will go back in this country, without forgetting to bring something to watch a bit more of the night sky than I did this time.