On the Ice

Partial solar eclipse in McMurdo

Lee and I saw the partial solar eclipse in McMurdo last night! The whole town was buzzing yesterday in anticipation. While our eclipse was partial, others in Antarctica experienced a total solar eclipse. The path of totality passed over WAIS field camp! I hope they had good weather for viewing.

Many people here in McMurdo went out onto the sea ice road from town to view the eclipse. The people organizing this also had a nice display of information on the Galley for those interested. There were some scientists out there as well who set up some instrumentation, including a telescope, to gather some data about the eclipse.

The eclipse started at 8:21 pm local time, peaked at 9:15, and ended at 10:07. It was sunny all day until around 4-5 pm, then some clouds started rolling in. We held out hope that the skies would clear, and around 7 pm, they did. Lee and I headed out to the sea ice road around 8:30.

People walking out onto the sea ice to view the eclipse.

The sky was clear of clouds, and the temperatures were in the 20s F, but it was quite windy. It definitely felt cold at times, but that’s why we wear our cold weather gear.

Lee (left) and me (right).

The first group of people on the sea ice were gathered around the telescope. That gave a great view of the eclipse!

Taking a picture of the eclipse through the lens of the telescope.

We walked down to the end of the road where many people were watching the eclipse. This is where the rest of the scientists had their instruments set up. We got there around 9:05. Lee and I didn’t have any eclipse viewing glasses, and while we got some fleeting glimpses borrowing others, someone was handing some out there, so Lee and I got to view the eclipse when it reached its peak! It reached ~82% coverage here in McMurdo. The sunlight did seem dimmer around the time of the peak, but it wasn’t by much. The light bits of cirrus cloud may have contributed to the dimming as well. It’s amazing how bright the sun is even if it is mostly blocked by the moon.

People watching the eclipse. Some cirrus clouds provided a nice half-halo. And notice to the lower right of the sun, the reflection of the sun from my cell phone camera shows the eclipse.

It was a great experience to be able to see the eclipse in McMurdo! We were lucky to have the clouds clear out to give us a great view.



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