29 April 2014 – Solar Eclipse: report and souvenir poster
It is with plenty of happiness that I’m reporting here about the amazing, recent 29 April Solar Eclipse event, which was – once again – a memorable experience. After the April lunar eclipse, we wanted to try once again the same route: engaging a few observer in the right place, teaming with them and share the astronomical event with the community worldwide.
This time, the event was a rare non-central, annular eclipse, showing as such only from a very small area in Antarctica, where no humans are. But as a very beautiful, partial eclipse, it was visible from Australia, at sunset. The limited region of visibility was a critical issue in the whole organization, but the beauty of the event was still a great, encouraging factor.
So, soon after the lunar eclipse, at Virtual Telescope we started exploring the possibility to also cover the solar one. The first thing was to contact people in Australia for suggestions to exploit further the real chances to set up all this stuff and here my dear friend and colleague Padma Yanamandra-Fisher, Space Science Institute, had a nice input. She prompted me to contacted Suzy Webb, of the board of the Ice In Space community.
Also, Rod Stubbing, a friend and a very experienced variable stars observer in Australia, provided very precious contacts. Meanwhile, I also contacted members of the same Ice in Space community and received a nice feedback, with several people willing to contribute to this effort. In a couple of days, it was clear that it was really possible to make this live coverage!
Christie McMonial, Astronomers Without Borders, helped a lot for this event, which also was part of Global Astronomy Month 2014: as with the lunar eclipse, what could be better of such an event, involving people from different countries, in underling that really astronomy has no boundaries?
So, the team was ready and I’m very pleased to acknowledge all members here:
- astrophotographer: Dean Hooper (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia);
- astrophotographer: John Stevenson (Bribie Island, Queensland, Australia);
- astrophotographer: Chris Stockdale (Latrobe Valley Astronomical Society, “Hazelwood Observatory”, near Morwell, Victoria, Australia)
- astrophotographer: Veronica Sullivan (Wycheproof, Victoria, Australia);
- astrophotographer: Alex Runic (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
- astrophotographer: Geoffrey Wyatt (Dalby, Queensland, Australia)
- coordinator and live comment: astrophysicist Gianluca Masi (The Virtual Telescope Project, Italy).
All those imagers are enthusiastic amateur astronomers and were excited to join such an international effort, bringing something great in their sky to people living in different regions of the world. We planned everything, to have the whole gear running smoothly, even if the weather was clearly a serious issue against our intentions.
The day of the eclipse, each member of the team was at her/his place: soon, it was confirmed that people in the Victoria area were likely going to have a no-show, because of the heavy rain. No matter this, they were ready to go, should the Sun find a way to show through the clouds, and provided real-time updates about the weather. The Queensland area was blessed with a better weather and from there we regularly received amazing images of the eclipse.
Those wonderful images were shared in real time with the world, via the Virtual Telescope Project advanced online facilities, with live comment and insights about the ongoing eclipse. Looking at the detailed statistics, almost 23.000 viewers from 145 Countries enjoyed the images from those brave observers and the comment provided by the Virtual Telescope.
The live feed lasted about two hours and it ended at sunset, with the eclipse still ongoing.
Below is the whole recording of the live coverage.
As the coordinator of the event, I want to express once again my gratitude to the team members for what they did, despite the weather was against many of them. You made this THE event. It was also great to share this in the framework of Global Astronomy Month 2014 and our friends of Astronomers Without Borders!
We are already looking forward to team up again and bring the gems of the Australian sky to everywhere: this eclipse was, after all, a noble, amazing excuse for us to meet and experience once again how beautiful and inspiring can be bringing the Cosmos to everybody.
Gianluca Masi, astrophysicist
Director, The Virtual Telescope Project
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